Bharat Financial Inclusion Limited, one of the largest micro finance companies in India, plans to roll out two lakh kirana points across its network in 16 states of India, in partnership with leading banks. “Kirana Points will eliminate, for rural borrowers, the past insurmountable obstacles like PINs and usher in the most convenient cash-in, cash-out points featuring biometric authentication and friendly neighbourhood guide,” Bharat Financial Inclusion Limited CEO and Managing Director M R Rao said. With introduction of Kirana Points, borrowers can visit nearest kirana and merchant stores to make basic financial transactions like repaying loan, depositing money, withdrawing cash, making bill and other payments, he said. The tailor-made innovation for rural borrowers is based on extensive research among potential users, and is ready for ramp up across the country in view of its increasing acceptance among borrowers in Humnabad, where a Kirana Point pilot has been running in partnership with a bank, Rao said. Kirana Points will also act as distribution and service centres for products being financed by Bharat Financial Inclusion Limited, helping the Company pursue growth opportunities benefiting all key stakeholders in a rapidly changing financial inclusion environment, he said.
The company has five lakh borrowers operating kirana and small merchant stores, and of these, the company would target to convert two lakh stores into Kirana Points, Rao said. The technology initiatives would further improve cost efficiencies at Bharat Financial Inclusion Limited, considered the most efficient MFI in the world with the lowest lending rate of 19.75 per cent among private sector MFIs, he said. “The technology initiatives will result in 40 per cent improvement in overall efficiency,” said Ritesh Chatterjee, Chief Operational Excellence of the company.
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“The improvement is on account of the fact that the Centre Meeting duration will fall by over 50% to 20 minutes (45 minutes at present), and the loan officer would be able to double the number of Centre Meetings managed daily to 12 (from the present six),” he said. “This will also provide our clients access to banking services as in rural ATMs, utility payments and e-retail system, all within 500 meters of the borrower’s house,” he added.