Payment banks could fast-track our financial inclusion journey
Their technology and reach place them well to help meet that goal but they need regulatory enablers to get on with the effort
You and me are part of a digital and inclusive India. We save, spend, invest and insure ourselves digitally. You might also be reading this article digitally. But what about Kamla, who lives in a far-off village? In a truly inclusive and digitally-powered ecosystem, I would imagine the following: Kamla borrows a small amount from her bank branch, which is really a village kirana store, and uses the money to buy her wholesale stock from a local farmer. She travels to the city to sell her vegetables, for which she bought a sachet insurance from the same kirana branch. Retail customers in the city scan and pay on her phone’s QR. On her way back, she deposits some of the earnings in her account at the kirana branch to repay the loan, while part of it goes into her savings, which she uses to periodically invest in a micro mutual fund or pay her insurance premium. No unfamiliar, complicated procedures, manual forms, or theft of cash, but simple and safe banking. Looks far-fetched? Not really. We now have the technology, reach and institutional support to realize this dream. We just need to connect the three dots. Payments banks (PBs) do that.
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