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«* * * India has seen historic progress and growth in the past decade. While the growth story has been impressive, there are causes for concern on ...»

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 Awareness in general, coupled with financial awareness on opening and operating accounts, must accompany the financial inclusion initiative.

 Banks should prepare comprehensive plans to cover all villages, through a mix of branchless banking and bricks and mortar branch banking. They should speed up enrolment of customers and opening of UID-enabled bank accounts. It envisages putting in place a system that enables routing of all social benefits to bank accounts electronically as also seamless cash transfer to the poor, as and when the government replaces the age-old system of subsidy and public distribution system with cash transfers.

The success of the BC model is highly dependent on the kind of support provided by base branches, especially for cash management, documentation and redressal of customer grievances. Hence, it is necessary that a bricks and mortar structure is available to support about 8–10 BCs at a reasonable distance of 2–3km. These branches can be low-cost intermediary simple structures comprising minimum infrastructure for operating small customer transactions and can act as an effective supervisory mechanism for BC operations.

 As mentioned earlier, banks must provide a minimum four products – a no-frills savings account with an overdraft facility, a pure savings product, entrepreneurial credit and remittance services, and new products tailored to income streams of poor borrowers and according to their needs and interests. Banks must be able to offer the entire suite of financial products and services to poor clients at attractive pricing.

Though the cost of administering small-ticket personal transactions is high, this can be brought down if banks effectively leverage ICT solutions. This can be attained through product innovation with superior cost efficiency. They must understand and penetrate the rural markets efficiently to cross-sell products and services. Mobile banking has tremendous potential and the benefits of m-commerce need to be exploited.

 It is important that adequate infrastructure such as digital and physical connectivity, uninterrupted power supply, etc., is available. All stakeholders will have to work together through sound and purposeful collaborations. Local and national-level organizations have to ensure that these partnerships look at both commercial and social aspects to help achieve scale, sustainability and impact.

This collaborative model will have to tackle exclusion by stimulating demand for appropriate financial products, services and advice with the appropriate delivery mechanism, and by ensuring that there is a supply of appropriate and affordable services available to those that need them.

 Mindset, cultural and attitudinal changes at grass roots and cutting-edge technology levels of branches of banks are needed to impart organizational resilience and flexibility. Banks should institute systems of reward and recognition for personnel initiating, ideating, innovating and successfully executing new products and services in the rural areas.

BIS central bankers’ speeches Conclusion Empirical evidence shows that economic growth follows financial inclusion. Boosting business opportunities will definitely increase the gross domestic product, which will be reflected in our national income growth. People will have safe savings along with access to allied products and services such as insurance cover, entrepreneurial loans, payment and settlement facility, etc.

Our dream of inclusive growth will not be complete until we create millions of microentrepreneurs across the country. All budding entrepreneurs have to face these challenges and find solutions. People working in the social sector should work for filling up the deficit existing in the economic and social arena.

To sum up, financial inclusion is the road that India needs to travel toward becoming a global player. Financial access will attract global market players to our country and that will result in increasing employment and business opportunities. Inclusive growth will act as a source of empowerment and allow people to participate more effectively in the economic and social process.

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