- Back to back governments of the same party is providing adequate time to focus on and deploy infrastructure
- Political parties in India have figured out how to benefit from government sops being distributed electronically.
Reserve Bank of India (RBI is the Indian Banking/Payments regulator) Deputy Governor Dr KC Chakrabarthy, among other RBI officials and Bank management shared their Financial Inclusion plans at the 23rd SKOCH Summit on Financial Deepening in Mumbai:
As part of Phase-1 (by 2012-13) of the current initiative, all villages with population greater than 2K are being covered (400K villages). Subsequently, the rest (200K villages) will be covered.
- Banks will each spend Rs 30-50Cr ($7-$11M) annually towards meeting their FI plan
- Banks are hiring their own Business Correspondents (BCs) this year, and addressing about 10-15% of their 3-year goal
- Banks will sign up third party BCs to scale up their efforts to reach their target over the next couple of years.
- NABARD suggested Self Help Groups (SHGs) to be BCs as they currently have a financial relationship with the target audience. [Editor: There are over 6M SHGs in India]
- It appears that the telcos will be on the sidelines during the current FI initiative. Please understand that FI targets the 400M individuals who are unbanked / underbanked. Telcos could still have a role while addressing the folks who already have both bank accounts and cell phones
- Banks' FI initiative will loose money over the first 3 years. However, RBI felt that, considering the profits being posted by banks in an economy growing nearly 10%, these looses can be absorbed.
- Government disbursements, to essentially the same audience targeted by FI, are expected to reduce losses for banks.
- Four products are part of the initial deployment: Banking, Remittances, Debit Card, Credit Card
- Use of payment cards (as debit/credit card for FI) was discussed, while its feasability and sustainability were questioned. [In the near future, not many transactions will be made using credit/debit cards, therefore the concern over ROI).
- Financial Education will be a significant heavy lifting that will need to be undertaken. Training BCs and education rural India are necessary for change in behavior and increase in transaction volumes. ABHAY (Bank of India), PAC (Primary Agricultural Cooperative) and Vikas Kendras are some of the associated initiatives.
- Role of UID in meeting FI: Banks are expected to perform their own independent KYC and cannot rely on a third-party KYC effort (i.e., banks cannot rely on UID's KYC).
- Banks have 30M accounts and 2500 BCs. Telcos have 600M accounts and 2M agents
- Telcos handle nearly $20B of cash via recharge of minutes. Therefore, they have both the front-end expertise and the back-end sophistication to adequately serve the market and meet the regulators requirements