Despite India boasting economic growth rates higher than most developed countries in recent years, a majority of the country’s population still remains unbanked. Financial Inclusion is a relatively new socio-economic concept in India that aims to change this dynamic by providing financial services at affordable costs to the underprivileged, who might not otherwise be aware of or able to afford these services. Global trends have shown that in order to achieve inclusive development and growth, the expansion of financial services to all sections of society is of utmost importance. As a whole, financial inclusion in the rural as well as financially backward pockets of cities is a win-win opportunity for everybody involved – the banks/NBFC’s intermediaries, and the left-out urban population. Banks will handle core infrastructure and services while intermediaries known as Business Correspondents (BC’s) will be the executors and act as the face of these banking & financial institutions in dealing with end-users. The Business Correspondents (BC’s) shall be carrying handheld terminals like Tablets (GSM enabled) coupled with portable biometric scanner, smart card swipe machines as well as thermal Bluetooth printers for carrying out their online banking activities on the field. Authentication and customer information is provided by the UIDA through NPCI or NSDL once the institution becomes an authorized UIDAI user. As income levels and consequently, savings in rural areas increase, it is essential to help earners manage their funds and facilitate incoming and outgoing payments. Allowing people to create simple, no-frills current and savings accounts, relaxing KYC norms and directly crediting social benefits to account owners will bolster an inclusive approach to finance & banking in rural areas.
Financial inclusion of the unbanked masses is a critical step that requires political will, bureaucratic support and constant pressure by the RBI. It is expected to unleash the hugely untapped potential of the bottom-of-pyramid section of Indian economy.
Hence, it is believed that financial inclusion can initiate the next revolution of growth and prosperity. In the 21st century, India has been pulling all the right levers to advance financial inclusion and economic citizenship by channeling its own transactions to lubricate the system. India’s journey towards economic ascension relies on how the 65% unbanked population of India (conservative 2012 estimate by World Bank) is enabled with financial infrastructure.
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