Although India is one of those forerunners in the race of developing countries in the world, it is interesting to note that 70% of India lives in its 6.6 lakh villages.
- 80,000 villages have a population of more than 2000
- 1.5 lakh villages – 1500 to 2000 people per village
- Rest, have a population less than 1000 people per village
Access to nationalized financial institutions, one of the key indicators of financial inclusion and economic power has been missing in these areas for a long time now. The geographical location and the low volume of transactions from these areas have been some of the major problems for nationalized banks, to open and sustain bank branches in these areas.
India has the highest number of households (145 million) excluded from banking. RBI has identified bank branches closest to every village. But most of these villages are 5-40kms away from the nearest bank branch that they are assigned to. Private banks don’t exist in these areas. How can the government create a more inclusive and accessible financial system for 70% of India living in these villages?
ICT to the Rescue:
Butchi Babu is a resident of the village, Sri Kurmam from Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh. Two years ago, being a 10th class pass and over 18 years of age, Butchi had the opportunity to appear for the qualifying examination conducted by Gram Tarang Inclusive Development Services Pvt Ltd on behalf of the nationalized bank in the region. Emerging as one of the toppers in this examination, Butchi was among those trained by Gram Tarang to be an on-ground bank agent for the nationalized bank in his village. After training, he was selected as the best candidate to be the banking agent for his village.
Now Butchi uses a laptop, data card, printer, biometric reader, smart card reader and banking software in the laptop to help people in his village transact with the nearest bank branch. He opens zero balance accounts for all people over 18yrs of age. He collects hard copy forms and also prepares a soft copy of these forms for the bank. Using the inbuilt camera in the laptop, Butchi captures a snapshot of every person who wants to open a bank account along with their thumb print that is captured using the biometric reader.
So what do banks do from their end?
Bank agents from the villages submit their hard copy data to the nearest bank branch. This is then sent as soft copy forms to the technology partners of Gram Tarang like TCS, Genpact etc. After a thorough check, the technology partner will provide a smart card to each applicant. Beneficiaries can virtually transact with the smart card by visiting the agent and giving their thumb impression. Their account then pops up for them to transact. After the transaction is done, the agent also issues a receipt from the printer. The data will then reach the server of the technology partner which is later sent to the banks.
What is Gram Tarang’s Role?
Gram Tarang Inclusive Development Services Pvt Ltd acts as the execution partner for the nationalised banks in the country. Nationalised banks’ bids are taken by technology companies. Gram Tarang works closely with these technology partners to implement the inclusive banking model in villages in India. Gram Tarang is involved in the selection process of agents, training agents, monitoring them etc.
Started in 2010 by Venkat Sivanand Kumar, Gram Tarang Inclusive Development Services currently
- Has 400 bank agents in Assam
- Works in 4650 villages in 8 states of India
- Andhra Pradesh – 2650 villages
- West Bengal – 850 villages
- And in several parts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Chattisgarh, and Tripura
“We want to service 25000 villages in 3 yrs, directly servicing 3 million beneficiaries. We are planning to venture into solar energy space. These areas have rampant power cuts. This is a big hindrance to our work especially with the agents using a laptop. We are actually planning to give them solar kits, train the bank agents on using solar kits and also ask them to cross sell to other villagers. We are in touch with SELCO for this project,” concludes Venkat Sivanand Kumar, Founder, Gram Tarang Inclusive Development Services.
Want to know more Gram Tarang? Take a look at Gram Tarang Inclusive Development Services.
Disclaimer: Name of the agent in this story has been changed in this story.