India Post’s payments bank will start functioning from March 2017 and serve as a wider platform to implement financial inclusion programmes, IT & Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on sunday.

"We are going to start the postal payments bank by March 2017. Very soon we will go to the Cabinet and postal payments bank will become operational from March 2017," Prasad told reporters here.

He said the proposed India Post payments bank will have immense potential to sell third party product and services.

About 50 companies, including some from abroad, are keen to partner with postal department for the payments bank, like World Bank, Citi from America, Barclay’s from England, he said.

Reacting to a query, he said these institutions will offer third party services like insurance products, mutual funds, banking instruments and a variety of financial instruments.

Asked on the interest shown by these institutions, the minister said, "…that board will decide, I’m only saying value addition of postal department it is attracting so much global attention." 

"…they will decide how much to give them. It is a call they will take," he said.