The banking correspondent channel of State Bank of India was a big support during the Covid-19 lockdown periods said Managing Director, Rajnish Kumar.

"Transactions through the banking correspondent network exceeded about 3.5 million a day on some days during the Covid-19 lockdowns. Whereas in the branch, it is normally we handle about 2 million transactions, but during Covid-19 period it came down to 1.2 million. That way the banking correspondents were a big support," Kumar said while addressing a webinar organised by NITI Aayog and MicroSave Consulting. The webinar was focused on how countries can build a robust digital infrastructure amid the Covid-19 crisis.

As part of the₹1,70,000 crore Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, the government is providing free foodgrains and cash assistance to people to fight against the Covid-19 crisis.

Under this package, ₹10,029 crore have been credited to over 20 crore Jan Dhan account holders as a first instalment. In the second instalment, ₹10,315 crore was credited to 20.62 crore Jan Dhan account holders.

This disbursal was done through the banking network. Kumar said it has been made possible because of the JAM trinity, the effort to link Jan Dhan accounts, mobile numbers and Aadhar cards of Indians to plug the leakages of government subsidies.

Kumar said that there was also a challenge to prevent crowding at bank branches during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

To plug this to some extent, bank account holders were assigned specific days of the week that they could come to the branch and withdraw money. This was linked to the last digits of their account numbers and spread over the bank working days.

So, those with account numbers ending with 1,2 were allowed to transact at a bank of just one particular day of the week. Similarly those with account numbers ending with 3,4 were allowed another day and the same was done for all other numbers.

Kumar said that this prevented crowding at banks. He also said that SBI is considering extending this practice for a longer time to prevent bank branches from crowding.