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RBI to launch IT-enabled financial inclusion project
June, 05th 2008

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is actively pursuing the implementation of IT-enabled financial inclusion project in Karnataka. The project will facilitate the routing of all state government payments to the beneficiaries of public projects like National Rural Employment Guarantee Project (NREGP) through bank accounts with the use of smart cards and business correspondents in Karnataka.

According to Devaki Muthukrishnan, regional director, RBI, a pilot project is being launched to carry out the project in three districts of Bellary, Chitradurga and Gulbarga. "We are in the advanced stages of finalising the pilot with the lead banks concerned and government of Karnataka. The project will be launched very soon," she said.

Addressing a one-day workshop on the role and responsibilities of non-government organisations as business facilitators and business correspondents, here today, she said the banking community has successfully completed the first phase of financial inclusion. This involved opening of no frills' accounts for every household in all 29 districts.

The opening of accounts in the Bangalore Metro has also been completed. The first phase of financial inclusion in the state has witnessed the opening of 3 million bank accounts.

"The banks need to redesign their business strategies to incorporate specific plans to promote financial inclusion of "bottom of the pyramid" group treating it both as a business opportunity as well as a corporate social responsibility. They have to make use of information technology-based solutions like smart cards extensively to facilitate offsite banking," she said.

Muthukrishnan said banks need to use business correspondents and business facilitators' models for enhancing capacities of existing branches for increasing outreach with proper care. They need to replicate the model of micro-credit delivery to farmers and artisans through NGOs, self help groups and farmers' clubs selectively.

"Financial inclusion can emerge as a commercially profitable business and can lift the financial condition and standards of life of the poor and the disadvantaged. The bankers, technology providers, NGOs, micro-finance institutions have a small but significant role to play in this unfolding of future story of economic growth and distribution and we shall strive to achieve the set goals," she added.

N K Thingalaya, former chairman of Syndicate Bank, Mahpara Ali, Chief General Manager, State Bank of India were present on the occasion. The workshop was organised by Initiatives for Development Foundation.

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