Banking goes Rural thanks to State Bank of Indore
By Ankit Sharma
May 20, 2008
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State Bank of Indore, in a first move of its kind, has launched India’s first IT-enabled biometric card for customers in the less developed rural areas. The aim of the bank is to expand its customer base and extend its banking services to remote areas where no such services are currently available.

The uniqueness of this project is that it’s the first time that a bank has decided to reach out to illiterate or semi-literate villagers who have so far remained outside the scope of banking services.

As a trial, the bank has planned to provide these cards in the next two months to nearly 35,000 members of families in two blocks of Vidisha district in Madhya Pradesh — Nateran and Shamshabad. The districts would be closely monitored, and according to the response and its success, the project would be extended to other areas as well.

Another feature of this biometric card would be its use as an identification card, so that the member can avail the banking services themselves. The card can be used to get agricultural loans and other services with ease as it will carry the member’s thumb impression to identify the account holder.

There will be two organizations helping the bank in this noble cause. Zero Mass Foundation, a Mumbai-based NGO, would work in collaboration with an IT company, A Little World. The former will reach out to the potential customers while the latter will be providing software and other technical support for making the biometric cards.

The Madhya Pradesh Finance Minister, Mr Raghavji, distributed 11 biometric cards to the first batch of beneficiaries at Shamshabad in his home district of Vidisha recently. He said that the bank’s business was now equal to that of the budget of Madhya Pradesh.

Presiding over the function, the bank’s Managing Director, Mr Pradeep Shankar, said that the bank’s business earned a net profit of Rs 234.01 crore, touching Rs 43,000 crore in 2007-08, i.e., registering a growth of 23.19 per cent.

Out of the bank’s 459 branches, 349 are in Madhya Pradesh and 79 per cent of the bank’s total agriculture advances are shared by Madhya Pradesh.

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