First the figures. The World Bank Findex Survey (2012) says only 35 per cent of Indian adults had access to a formal bank account and 8 per cent borrowed formally in the last 12 months. Only 2 per cent of adults used an account to receive money from a family member living in another area and 4 per cent used an account to receive payment from the government.
On the other hand, research firm Juxt, in its India Mobile Landscape (IML) 2013 report, says India has 55.48 crore mobile users. More than 29.8 crore or about 54 per cent of these device owners are in rural areas compared to 25.6 crore in cities and towns.
Keeping this is mind, it is not surprising that the RBI, in its recent announcment, gave an in-principle approval to set up a payment system where all you need is a mobile phone to withdraw money from an ATM even without having a bank account.
Even as there are several modes currently available for remitting and receiving money, the RBI has added an innovative model for monetary transaction for individuals across the country.
“Cashing out is important for remittances because we have a large recipient population in the country most of whom do not have access to formal banking services,” the RBI Governor, Raghuram Rajan said while talking about this payment system. “We need more such innovative products, some of which mobile companies are providing.”
Now banks are working towards increasing their ATM network so that this facility is available to larger number of people.
“By March 31, 2014, all public sector bank branches will have an ATM machine and that will make increase penetration and thereby enable more people to have access to cash through this system,” said KR Kamath, chairman, Punjab National Bank who is also the chairman of Indian Banks’ Association.
“This will go a long distance in providing easy access to transferred money to individuals who do not have bank accounts. The idea is that there are lot of unsatisfied people who do not have bank accounts and don’t have cash withdrawal facility,” Kamath added.
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