Money & Banking

SBI to stop appointing individual business facilitators

Shobha Roy Kolkata | Updated on July 17, 2012 Published on July 17, 2012

CREDIBILITY CONCERN

State Bank of India plans to discontinue the practice of appointing individual business facilitators.

The bank has close to 10,000 individual facilitators enrolled under its countrywide network. This apart, the bank uses the services of a large number of business facilitators enrolled under various institutions such as India Post and some NGOs.

The business facilitators are responsible for identification of potential borrowers, data collection and creating awareness about savings. According to a senior bank official, the individual facilitators were not serving the cause of financial inclusion and there were also instances of malpractices in their operations. This apart, market sources said that in most cases, the facilitators were not able to provide business commensurate to their commission, thereby impacting the bank’s margins.

“These ‘facilitators’ are mere information providers. They give business leads to the branch for further processing. In a number of cases, there were issues of moral hazards as these facilitators were not following the correct practices,” the official said.

The bank is finding it increasingly difficult to keep a check on such individual facilitators. It has also decided to terminate the services of existing individual facilitators on expiry of their agreements.

The bank has asked individual facilitators to either upgrade into a business correspondent or associate themselves with institutions — like NGOs — to bring credibility in operations. SBI now suggests business facilitators to follow the business correspondent model in setting up customer service points and conducting banking operations through point-of-sale terminals, mobile phones or other such smart devices.

In order to ensure greater financial inclusion, the Reserve Bank of India had in 2006 instructed banks to use the services of business correspondents and business facilitators. Business correspondents carry out much wider function, including that of disbursal of small value credit, collection of small value deposits, sale of third party products and receipt and delivery of small value remittances. SBI currently has a network of 30,000 such correspondents across the country.

>shobha.roy@thehindu.co.in

Published on July 17, 2012
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