More than 2.11 lakh villages which did not have banking facilities three years back, are now being served by 1.52 lakh business correspondents.

Inaugurating a seminar on ‘Indian banking sector: Big challenges and the road ahead’, organised by the Mangalore Institute of Technology and Engineering at Moodbidri in Dakshina Kannada district, Deepali Pant Joshi, Executive Director, Reserve Bank of India, said that the financial inclusion plan (FIP) 2010-13, which was introduced by various banks in April 2010, has so far provided banking services to 2.11 lakh villages.

Before this, the number of villages having banking facility was 67,694.

On the rise

The number of business correspondents, which was 34,532 before the implementation of FIP, went up to 1.52 lakh as at end-December 2012. And, various banks opened 5,694 rural branches.

She said that the number of basic savings bank deposit accounts has gone up from 73.45 million in 2010 to 171.43 million as at end-December 2012.

Though the number of technology-based transactions at business correspondents’ end is encouraging, it is still very low compared to the those in banking outlets, she said.

In January 2010, all banks were advised to prepare a board-approved FIP congruent with their business strategies for a three-year period extending up to 2013.

The RBI closely monitored the implementation of these FIPs.

Business model

Stating that the banks are yet to perceive financial inclusion as a profitable business model, Joshi said many banks are still pursuing it as a regulatory requirement than treating it as a business model.

She said that financial inclusion acts from the supply side by providing financial market and services that people demand, whereas financial literacy stimulates the demand side by making people aware of what they can demand.

Banks have been advised to set up financial literacy centres (FLCs) in the 630-plus offices of the lead district managers.

As of end-December 2012, 658 FLCs were functioning and 1.5 million people were educated during April-December 2012.

Around 35,000 rural branches of scheduled commercial banks have been mandated to undertake financial literacy activities with focus on financially excluded population, she said.

vinayak.aj@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on May 5, 2013)
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