Eight months after barring the country's largest private sector lender HDFC Bank from selling new credit cards, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has lifted the ban, banking sources said on Tuesday.
However, the ban on launching new technology initiatives remains, the sources said.
In December last year, the RBI had come out with an unprecedented action implementing both the bans, after repeated instances of technological outages at the lender, which is the market leader in the credit cards segment.
Rivals ICICI Bank and SBI Cards seized the opportunity to narrow the gap with HDFC Bank.
"A communication has been received by HDFC Bank regarding the lifting of the ban on credit cards on Tuesday," one of the sources, who declined to be identified, said.
The bank's existing users were not impacted by the ban and it had 1.48 crore credit card customers as of June.
On July 17, the bank's chief executive and managing director Sashidhar Jagdishan had said it has complied with 85 per cent of the RBI's requirements on the improvements desired, and the ball is now in the regulator's court to re-allow the bank.
Earlier, its technology and credit card vertical had said the time off the market has been utilised to re-draw processes and the teams are raring to go.
Jagdishan had said a technology audit is also over and the RBI will now be "independently" taking a view on when to lift the penal actions taken against the bank.
"We have given a milestone to the regulator in terms of what are the things we are doing on technology, complying with their advisories and directives.
"We have covered a significant portion as we speak. Almost 85 per cent of what we had to do has been covered," Jagdsihan, who has been with the lender for over two decades and worked as the 'change agent' in the years leading to his elevation, said.
He added that the ball is in the regulator's court.
"As they deem fit, as they see that we are on the right track, I am sure at some point of time, they will lift the embargo."
Acknowledging that the bank has lost market share in the credit card segment due to the ban, Jagdsihan said tech outages are a global phenomenon but it is the time taken to recover from a setback where the bank erred, leading to the "rap on the knuckles" from the regulator.
The action against HDFC Bank has been followed with a ban on card companies Mastercard and American Express from selling any new cards because of a failure to adhere to data localisation rules.
Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters