Vastavam web: Axis Bank Ltd, India’s seventh-biggest lender by assets, said on Thursday it had agreed to buy mobile payments wallet provider FreeCharge from e-commerce company Snapdeal for 3.85 billion rupees ($60.04 million).The deal comes as FreeCharge’s parent, Snapdeal, moves closer towards a merger with bigger rival Flipkart in what sources have said would be an up-to-$950 million deal.A decision on either merging FreeCharge with its existing payment wallet or keeping it as a separate unit within the bank will be taken after discussions with the regulator, Axis Bank Chief Executive Officer Shikha Sharma said.
“It’s a strategic fit because serving the digital mediums of tomorrow is an important objective for us as a bank,” Sharma said. Digital payments in India have surged after a shock government ban on high-value bank notes last November. Freecharge, however, lagged rivals Paytm and MobiKwik who have grown users and transactions at a faster pace. Banks are also looking to grow their retail businesses faster as the corporate segment has been hit due to over-leverage among companies and a crackdown on defaulting borrowers.