Bank using IT for speedy financial inclusion
By Neelima Shankar
Dec 22, 2007
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New Delhi: Armed with a biometric reader, laptop powered by batteries and mobile phones providing the connectivity, bank officials are busy extending banking facilities to the rural areas as part of the financial inclusion project. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its 2007-08 annual policy had urged the banks to make use of innovative IT initiatives to speed up the financial inclusion process. RBI stressed on the need for such a solution to be of open standards and secure, so that it fosters trust and interoperability.

There are many impediments to bring a person into mainstream banking operations. Besides the lack of a banking infrastructure, very basic things like electricity, network etc. are also not available in some areas. Any IT initiative cannot do without power and so car batteries provided the necessary solution. The problems of illiteracy, lack of education, and communication are been simplified with the help of biometrics and voice guidance system. Biometrics are used to scan the fingerprints and thus provide effective and unique identification of each individual and the voice guidance system enables the official to provide necessary information and directions to the people in their own language.

No-frills account is one of the major products used by the banking industry to drive financial inclusion. Such bank accounts have very little or no minimum balance criteria and are suitable to a vast majority of people in India who cannot afford to keep high 'minimum balances'. No frills account provides basic banking services at a nil or minimal charge.

Almost all the leading banks like the State Bank of India (SBI), Corporation Bank, Union Bank of India, State Bank of Hyderabad, Syndicate Bank, Axis Bank, Canara Bank, Punjab National Bank, Dena Bank and ICICI Bank took part in this financial inclusion project on a pilot basis.

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