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Role of Banks in Financial Inclusion in India Research Team | Posted On Thursday, January 30,2020, 05:20 PM

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Role of Banks in Financial Inclusion in India



What is Financial Inclusion?

Financial inclusion may be referred to as the process of providing financial services and easy access to credit to all the people in the country. Financial inclusion will enable banks to provide credit to vulnerable groups such as weaker sections and low-income group at a reasonable cost. It will also help banks to provide financial products to such sections and enable them to understand the importance of saving and investing money.

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Many economically weaker sections in India still do not have access to basic banking facilities. Thus they end up borrowing money from private moneylenders at high interest rate. Inclusion of the society as a whole would enable people to understand the concept of saving and investing money. Thus it may gradually help to eliminate many economic problems in the country and will boost the economic growth of India.

See Also: Banking System in India: What You Need to Know?

How Banks are Driving Financial Inclusion?

Financial inclusion means delivering services of the banks to all sections of the society. Financial inclusion plays a major role in driving away poverty and will help in surplus capital formation. Banks are now opening avenues to extend banking services to all at affordable terms. It enables to reduce the economic gap between the rich and the poor and enables fast-paced economic progress and development of the nation.

In India, the government had taken some active steps to prioritize financial inclusion. It has implemented several important schemes like Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) through major public sector banks. The State Bank of India had laid active efforts in opening PMJDY accounts and has been a strong proponent of the RuPay debit card. The customers using these cards are liable to get accidental insurance cover for free. The number of people visiting bank branches and ATMs has significantly increased in both rural and urban areas.

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Banks are also driving the initiative of financial inclusion by developing digital banking. People living in remote areas and woman are now better equipped with banking facilities through digital banking. Banks have slowly moved their operations online, thus allowing financial inclusion to widen its scope. The banks have also tied-up with third-party apps and BHIM app to enable the inclusion of small businesses and a large number of people engaged in various services. Banks are eager to further implement their programmes to serve low-income and other underserved customers and are keen to work more closely with policymakers on advancing these programmes as efficiently as possible. By bringing more and more citizens under the financial infrastructure, banks can encourage more transactions, more savings and stronger economic growth.

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Policies, Initiatives and Measures Taken by RBI to Drive Financial Inclusion:

The apex financial institution of the country has adopted certain policies and measures for achieving financial inclusion. Thus these measures helped remove the roadblocks towards complete financial inclusion and for achieving the targeted goals. Thus the RBI has created a healthy regulatory environment and has given institutional support to banks to further this vision:

Here is a list of initiatives taken by the RBI:

  • Facilitated opening of Basic Savings Bank Deposit accounts with minimum common facilities. Thus the regulations include minimum balance, deposit and withdrawal of cash at branch and ATMs, complementary ATM cards and transfer of money through electronic payment channels.
  • User-friendly and simple KYC norms to facilitate the opening of bank accounts. This has immensely helped in the opening of small accounts whose balance does not exceed Rs. 50,000. Bank employees are strictly prohibited to insist customers on buying investment products and they are advised to use Adhaar as authentic proof of identification.
  • The RBI has also simplified Branch Authorization Policy thus controlling the uneven spread of bank branches across the country. Thus banks have to follow certain rules while opening bank branches in Tier 2 to Tier 6 cities. However, in North-Eastern States and Sikkim domestic SCBs can open branches without having any permission from RBI.
  • The RBI has also instructed banks on the compulsory requirement of opening bank branches in remote villages and areas. Banks are required to allocate at least 25% of the total number of branches in un-banked villages and rural centres.
  • The RBI has also instructed public and private sector banks to submit board approved 3-years financial plan starting from April 2010. These policies help RBI understand the targets of the banks thus enabling them to monitor these projects efficiently. They can effectively regulate employees and the branches, further bank facilities to unbanked places, and led the country towards economic growth while fulfilling its vision of financial inclusion.
  • The RBI has also revised guidelines related to Financial Literacy Centres (FLCs) in June 2012. Accordingly, it was advised that FLCs and all the rural branches of scheduled commercial banks should scale up financial literacy efforts through the conduct of outdoor Financial Literacy Camps at least once a month, to facilitate financial inclusion through the provision of two essentials i.e. ‘Financial Literacy’ and easy ‘Financial Access’.

See Also: What is a Savings Bank Account?

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