Chairman and Managing Director, Central Bank of India
Beyond initials in the financial inclusion, a lot still needs to be done in the state, said MV Tanksale, chairman, Central Bank of India. “I don’t think that the business correspondent (BC) agent models are able to deliver what they are expected to deliver,” he said. The BC agent is the last mile connectivity in the rural areas where banks have not reached. They are known as representatives of the banks.
Recounting his own experience, Tanksale said that role of BC is still very limited. “I visited Sikiria village near Bihta in Patna. The MNREGS payments are made by the Central Bank of India through business correspondent agent. But his activity is confined only to the payment of MNREGS workers through e-Shakti cards,” he said. Tanksale was instrumental in introducing many innovations in the banking field, especially in the area of e-banking products (he pioneered the `Transaction Banking Division` a technology-based platform for a wide range of products and services to customers).
“The BC model is also the biggest employment opportunity. But unless they accept it as permanent commitment as a livelihood, I don’t think the purpose is going to get served. Passion, interest and his earning must be good to move his passion,” he said, stressing on the need of changing the BC model in the state and the country where banks have entered villages with population of 2,000. “The good thing is that smart card has been given and in 20 percent cases, accounts are operating regularly,” he said. According to him, these are the small steps in the financial inclusion direction.
But, he was appreciative of the fact that the state has created a passion for financial inclusion. Banks have opened common service centres (CSCs) with the help of SREI Sahaj, which is India’s largest CSCs network.
The CSCs have started in the state. But, Tanksale added, CSCs must provide multiple services. “Convergence between CSC and financial inclusion is needed. But multiple services are important so that the business correspondent agent can generate sufficient income. The client servicing is very important. We should now shift focus towards client servicing,” the chairman said.
As bankers are facing flak for not committing to the financial inclusion prorgamme, he gave a note of advice to the bankers to play active role in financial inclusion. He said, “Bankers should think that by merely making payments to the technology partners or business correspondents, financial inclusion cannot be achieved. The bankers will have to own it up.” Tanksale also accepted the fact that banks have also deficit of manpower in branches.
“We have evolved the ultra small-branch to cater to the needs of villagers. The branch officials are required to go to villages at least once in a week to build confidence among villagers and make them aware of BC agents. It is also to let them know that these BC agents are extension of bank and the villagers’ money is in safe hands,” he said.