The largest private sector lender of the country, ICICI Bank has joined hands with telecom major Vodafone Essar to move ahead with financial inclusion drive in the country. Through this joint initiative, both companies will offer financial products and services to unbanked areas via mobile platform.
The two companies have tied up with the motive of bringing unbanked and underbanked areas of the country at par with the other areas in terms of financial services. ICICI Bank plans to leverage upon the large mobile network of Vodafone and the latter on ICICI's financial expertise.
The Reserve Bank of India has allowed banks to appoint corporates as business correspondents (BCs) in the process of financial inclusion. The ICICI-Vodafone deal is a step forward in this direction.
Speaking on the alliance, Ms. Chanda Kochhar, Managing Director & CEO, ICICI Bank Ltd said, "We are very excited about the partnership with Vodafone, which will help ICICI Bank in deepening its base within the country. Mobile penetration is growing exponentially in the country of which the rural market forms a major contributor. There is a huge potential for offering mobile banking in these regions, which will facilitate access to the financially excluded parts of the society and ensure that benefits from various welfare and growth programs of the government reach them along with other financial services and products. Vodafone, with its innovative and customer focus initiatives, is an ideal partner who will help in furthering the cause of financial inclusion in India".
Mr. Marten Pieters, Managing Director & CEO, Vodafone Essar, commented "the RBI move to allow for-profit companies to be Business Correspondents is a welcome move that will enable the population better access to financial services. With our reach and ability to connect to customers, we are uniquely positioned to aid the financial inclusion agenda of the Government of India and RBI. We are pleased to work with ICICI Bank, which has always strived to offer innovative products to its customers."