Zero balance Jan Dhan accounts below 46% of total number: SBI

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Mumbai | Published: March 12, 2016 12:15:35 AM

State Bank of India (SBI) chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya said on Friday the number of zero-balance accounts with SBI under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana...

State Bank of India (SBI) chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya said on Friday the number of zero-balance accounts with SBI under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) has come down to 46% of the total number of such accounts. Bhattacharya was speaking at an event organised by CIBIL.

“The number of zero-balance accounts has been rapidly coming down — it is below 46% now. In some  branches, it is in the teens. Therefore, we do realise that there is a large amount of unmet demand that is lying in these areas,” Bhattacharya said.

She said the bank had introduced a charge of Rs 20 with which the government was not happy. “And actually speaking, we found that all of these people who opened these accounts with R20 were actually beginning to maintain more than R500 balances in their accounts. And the demand did not go down.”

Bhattacharya emphasised the importance of data cleansing, adding that it is an ongoing exercise and efforts made by the banks in this relation are noteworthy.

“In our bank for instance, the data cleansing operation is named ‘Project Ganga’. But like the Ganga, we are still very far from getting pure data. However, much is still required to be done and we share collective responsibility for this task,” Bhattacharya said.

She concluded by stressing the importance of finding India-specific solutions considering the diversity of the country and not just replicating those of the West. She recounted an experience when she went to New York for the first time and had a hard time convincing the store keeper to accept a $100 bill instead of a credit card.

“I needed an overcoat because it was getting cold. I gave them a 100 dollar bill. I didn’t have a credit card. The person at the counter looked up, saw the $100 bill, dropped it few times, looked it up and down, tried turning it from all sides, and then started scrutinising me again from head to toe and then asked me, “credit card?”

Bhattacharya explained that since she was new to the country and did not have a six-month credit history in the US, she could not get a credit card.

“(The store keeper) she couldn’t quite realise how a person couldn’t have a credit card. So then I produced my social security card, I produced the fact that I was a person who had just come in to the country from overseas, that I was working in such and such a place, my ID card of the organisation. Nothing could really convince her. I thereafter took out my passport and showed the immigration stamp. That, I think, ultimately worked,” Bhattacharya said.

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