Financial Inclusion and How Technology can Contribute to it?

“India is failing, its rural poor with 230 million people being undernourished, the highest for any country in the world. Malnutrition accounts for nearly 50% of child deaths in India as every third adult (aged 15-49 years) is reported to be thin (BMI less than 18.5).Brought out by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), the report points to some staggering figures. More than 27% of the world’s undernourished population lives in India while 43% of children (under 5 years) in the country are underweight. The figure is among the highest in the world and is much higher than the global average of 25% and also higher than sub-Saharan Africa’s figure of 28%. These targeting errors arise due to imperfect information, inexact measurement of household characteristics, corruption and inefficiency in providing funds to impoverished sector”

This news in TOI (dated 15.10.2009) reflects the Financial Exclusion and its impact citizens are facing in India.
Let us first understand what Financial Inclusion means to us:
As stated by RBI, Financial Inclusion stands for “The process of ensuring access to appropriate financial products and services needed by vulnerable groups such as weaker sections and low income groups at an affordable cost in a fair and transparent manner by mainstream Institutional players”

The need of the hour to push Financial Inclusion generated in spite of the fact that the banking industry has shown tremendous growth in volume and complexity during the last few decades. Despite making significant improvements in all the areas relating to financial viability, profitability and competitiveness, there are concerns that banks have not been able to include vast segment of the population, especially the underprivileged sections of the society, into the fold of basic banking services. Almost 60% of our population resides in rural area in India.

The scope of Financial Inclusion involves providing

Bank accounts – check in account
Immediate Credit
Savings products
Remittances & Payment services
Insurance – Health care
Mortgage
Financial advisory services
Entrepreneurial credit

Following sectors broadly describe the Financial Exclusion region:

Agricultural and Industrial Laborers
People engaged in un-organized sectors
Unemployed
Women
Children
Old people
Physically challenged people.

The consequences of this vary depending on the nature 소액결제현금화  and extent of services denied. It may lead to increased travel requirements, higher incidence of crime, general decline in investment, difficulties in gaining access to credit or getting credit from informal sources at exorbitant rates, and increased unemployment, etc. The small business may suffer due to loss of access to middle class and higher-income consumers, higher cash handling costs, delays in remittances of money. According to certain researches, financial exclusion can lead to social exclusion.

From the data provided by Financial Inclusion committee (set by RBI), a conclusion can be reached which says the efforts taken by govt. has been quite palpable. But in spite of that we failed in providing banking facilities to Underprivileged section in rural and urban areas.

Key challenges faced by government as well as private players in providing financial services to these regions can be understood as follows:

– Lack of standard process for identification of individuals and SMEs
– Non availability of credit history of individuals and SMEs
– Need to provide Financial Service at bare minimum Cost
– Need to reach out to very small pockets of population which may make any FI investment inviable
– Lack of a proper business model
– Lack of an appropriate legal model
– Illiteracy within large section of population, which would need innovative ways of delivering banking channels / interaction model with banks or quasi banking entitie

 

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