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Banks Are Intensively Engaging In Digitisation Of Banking Transactions In Rural India

Educating the merchants who will be using these payment methods for their day to day business transactions by demonstrating various payment methods

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In a country which was predominantly a cash-based economy doing cashless transactions was a farfetched dream. But a rather disruptive move of Demonetization changed the face of the game for the whole banking system and a new era of Digital Banking beaconed.

Though there were a few initial hurdles for the commercial banks to transform their conventional transaction processes through digital mode, they took it as a challenge to move towards the goal of Digital India which required rapid transformation rather than the dated incremental approach to cope with the huge number of potential transactions. Technology came to the rescue of banks to tackle this situation with India being the 2nd Largest Smartphone market in the world only helped the cause.  

Today, digitization is not just a need of the towns and big cities but has become a necessity across all regions and strata of the country including the Rural India. This gave rise to the concept called Digital Village. A village where most of the day to day transactions happen in a cashless mode with services like, Mobile Wallets, Credit/Debit cards and Internet Banking etc.

There have been coordinated efforts by the banks to develop new service capabilities for streamlined adoption to Digitalization and all banks have taken up various initiatives to make all their branches in all parts of the country including rural and urban India digitally equipped.

A Recent example like UPI (Unified Payment Interface) which became a widely used and accepted payment interface with interoperability across all banks be it a PSU or a Private Bank.

The demand for PoS (Point of Sale) machines has risen in the wake of demonetization more and more people are using their Credit/Debit cards for transactions but even where there is no provision of PoS Machine people can still use various E-wallet which are readily available across various platforms on their smart phones. This has helped smaller business owners to a great extent cutting costs of buying a standalone PoS machine.

Conforming with the Government's Vision of Digital India and as a part of company's corporate social responsibility, Bank of India which is one of the leading state-owned banks with one of the largest rural branch network decided to transform its branches situated in rural villages into Digital Villages through the implementation of digital programme.

For the year 2017- 2018 the bank has identified 265 villages for Digital Villages. Currently, 94 villages have already been adopted & in the process of digitization to transformed into cashless banking services. Bank of India is one of the largest Indian PSU Bank with a branch network of 5,100 branches as on January 31, 2017 of which 2,000 branches are in rural areas.

The bank has set a target of converting at least 5 villages for each of its 54 zones into "Digital Villages". To complement this Digital Transformation the bank has also started 2 schemes Namely "PATHSHALA" & "PRAYOGSHALA" for creating awareness about digital transactions.

Under the PATHSHALA programme various zonal offices of the bank educate their customers about Card payments, their benefits and solving any concerns raised by the customers. Under the PRAYOGSHALA programme the bank concentrates on imparting the practical usage of various payment methods at places like schools, colleges, residential complexes to create awareness on the benefits of cashless banking transactions.

A host of payment options are available for a merchant to encourage digital transactions such as 'Swipe and Pay' (at merchant POS with a card); 'Touch and Pay' (especially for those who find it difficult making payment using a card or mobile app, it is a biometric-based Aadhaar payment) and 'Click and Pay' (customer can use mobile and scan the merchant's QR Code (Quick Response code).

Bank's all zonal branches are organising various workshops and Digital Literacy Camps for villagers to demonstrate cashless transactions and educating them about various ways in which they can perform digital transactions. The branches are also opening Aadhaar based saving accounts of villagers. Distribution of Rupay, Visa, Master Cards, Point of Sale machines (m-pos) to shopkeepers. Educating the merchants who will be using these payment methods for their day to day business transactions by demonstrating various payment methods. Educating people through distributing literature, leaflets, pamphlets etc. Programs are organised in Gram Panchayat, School and Collages to attract New Generations towards Banks.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Tags assigned to this article:
digitisation banking Year End 2017 ebanking

Shyam Sundar Banik

The author is General Manager - Customer Excellence Alternate Delivery Channels, Bank of India

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