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A World Bank report says almost half of India’s bank users have an account that has remained inactive in the past year.

In its Global Findex Database, 2017, a report for measuring financial inclusion and the Fintech Revolution, the World Bank said: “Globally, 13 per cent of adults, or 20 per cent of account owners, reported having what can be considered an inactive account, with no deposit or withdrawal – in digital form or otherwise – in the past 12 months.” This comes as a blow to the government, which has been taking many steps to increase financial inclusion, lower cash dependence and increase digital transactions.

The share of account owners with an inactive account varies across economies, but it is especially high in many South-Asian economies, but India has the highest percentage of such accounts, it said. According to the World Bank, in India, the share is 48 per cent – the highest in the world and about twice the average of 25 per cent for developing economies.

Explaining the reason for this mismatch, the World Bank said: “Part of the explanation might be India’s Jan Dhan Yojana scheme, developed by the government to increase account ownership. Launched in August 2014, the programme had brought an additional 310 million Indians into the formal banking system by March 2018, many of whom might not yet have had an opportunity to use their new account.”

Reacting to the findings, a government official said: “It may be pertinent to note that the report sources its data largely from surveys that were conducted in the summer of 2017. The total number of Jan Dhan account holders has risen from 28.17 crore in March 2017 to 31.44 crore in March 2018. The total number of current and savings accounts in banks has risen from 122.3 crore in March 2015 to 157.1 crore in March 2017.”

“The report states that about 51.4 crore accounts have been opened globally from 2014 to 2017. It is heartening to see that of these 51.4 crore accounts, the number of Jan Dhan Accounts opened in India during the same period is about 28.17 crore, constituting almost 55 per cent of the accounts opened globally during this period,” he added.