The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) unveiled several new digital tools on Tuesday, including the PRAVAAH (Platform for Regulatory Application, Validation and Authorisation) portal, the RBI Retail Direct mobile application, and the FinTech Repository. These digital initiatives include two information repositories focusing on fintech and regulated lenders.

The new portal, PRAVAAH, enables individuals and entities to apply for regulatory approvals and track the status of their applications. This centralised and secure platform also facilitates responses to any queries from regulators. The following are some of the key features available in the portal:

  1. Submit the application online on the portal;

  2. Track and monitor the status of the application/reference;

  3. Respond to any clarification/query sought by the RBI in connection with the application/reference; and

  4. Receive a decision from the Reserve Bank in a time bound manner.

These initiatives were previously announced in the RBI's bi-monthly statements on Development and Regulatory Policies released in April 2023, December 2023, and April 2024, respectively.

Currently, PRAVAAH hosts 60 application forms spanning various regulatory and supervisory departments within the RBI. This also includes a general purpose form for applicants to submit their requests, which are not included in any other application form. More application forms would be made available as may be required, the central bank says.

In regard to PRAVAAH, Prashanth Ramdas, partner, Khaitan & Co says, "The launch of the PRAVAAH portal should streamline the licensing and approval process across various departments of the RBI. Going forward, a wide variety of regulatory applications, ranging from bank / NBFC and payments licensing to change of control requests would need to be submitted through this portal. This is a key step in the regulator’s efforts to simplify regulatory procedures and clear out applications in a time-bound manner."

This also includes a general purpose form for applicants to submit their requests which are not included in any other application form.

In addition, the RBI introduced a mobile application for the Retail Direct portal, enabling retail investors to trade in government securities with greater ease. RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das previously highlighted that this app would significantly improve convenience for retail investors and help deepen the government securities (G-Secs) market. Through the Retail Direct portal, investors can access a range of financial instruments, including central government securities, treasury bills, state government securities, sovereign gold bonds, and floating rate saving bonds.

The RBI also launched two separate repositories: one dedicated to fintech companies and another for RBI-regulated entities. These repositories provide aggregated data, trends, and analytics, which are valuable for policymakers and industry participants. The fintech repository aims to capture comprehensive data on both regulated and unregulated fintech activities, products, technologies, and financials.

Regarding fintech repositories, Ramdas remarks, "The creation of a dedicated repository for fintech and emerging tech use-cases will help the regulator to better understand the nature and extent of new-age technologies in the BFSI sector. By encouraging licensed players as well as unregulated fintech companies to voluntarily disclose details, the RBI has signaled its intention to work with the industry to support fintech innovation while ensuring appropriate policy interventions."

Meanwhile, the EmTech repository focuses on how banks and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) are adopting emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and cloud computing.

Both repositories are managed by the Reserve Bank Innovation Hub (RBIH), a wholly owned subsidiary of the RBI. The repository would enable availability of aggregate sectoral level data, trends, analytics, etc., that would be useful for both policymakers and participating industry members.

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