As part of the Enhanced Access and Service Excellence (EASE) reform, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman launched a doorstep banking service initiative by public sector banks (PSBs) in September this year.
With this initiative, customers can avail of banking services through the universal touchpoints of call centres, web portal, or mobile app. Moreover, the services will be rendered by the doorstep banking agents deployed by the selected service providers at 100 centres across the country.
According to the finance ministry, the initiative will benefit people at large, especially underserved, senior citizens, people with disabilities, and those who are afraid to step out and visit public places during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In line with this, many Indian fintech startups are also providing doorstep banking services to their customers in remote locations. Here are a few of them.
Fintech startup BANKIT was launched in 2017 to push India for financial inclusion, and promote digital transactions in rural and semi-urban areas. Since 2018, it has been offering doorstep banking services, including domestic money transfer, cash withdrawals, prepaid cards, travel booking, insurance, loans, etc.
The startup operates through its outlets, agents, and local kirana stores. It has over one lakh ‘Digi Mitras’ in rural India to help the underserved and underbanked sections of the society.
In fact, it has over 50,000 agents spread across Tier II, III, and IV cities, who assist customers with banking facilities. BANKIT is present in 23 Indian states serves customers in 4,856 pin codes.
Fino Payment Bank
As a financial inclusion practitioner working with partner banks in rural areas, Fino Payments Bank, through its tech-enabled agent network, has been providing doorstep banking services since the mid-2000s.
Through its phygital approach — where physical outlets (branches, merchant points) are equipped with digital devices such as micro ATM, AePS, mPOS devices — the startup is bringing banking closer to people who have limited or no access.
It has over 2.75 lakh merchant points (kiranas, mobile repair, stationery shops, etc.) spread across 550 districts, including in Lakshadweep, which provides the convenience of banking at any time, unlike conventional banks.
Besides this, it provides doorstep services through its consumer-facing app BPay to small business owners, elderly people, and pensioners. These customers can swipe their ATM card or do a fingerprint authentication on the Fino device to open up accounts, complete a deposit or withdrawal, money transfer, utility bills payment transactions, EMI payments, or purchase life and health insurance policies.
Amidst the pandemic, Fino executives and merchants with micro ATM devices — also called by the startup as ‘Human ATMs’ — facilitated over Rs 15,000 crore of cash withdrawals in rural areas.
Established in April 2016, Pay Nearby Technologies Pvt. Ltd. is a DIPP certified fintech startup that operates a B2B2C model along with neighbourhood kiranas who can facilitate assisted doorstep banking and digital financial services to its customers.
These services include Aadhaar ATM, SMS payment, utility payment, prepaid cards, money transfer, hyperlocal services, and other payment services like Bharat QR and UPI, using the PayNearby App.
Since March, the startup has disbursed Rs 6,000 crore in loans through its BC network and AePS system.
Commenting on the rise of branchless banking in India, Anand Kumar Bajaj, MD and CEO, PayNearby, said, “Branchless banking, also known as the new-age banking, has been at the forefront in last few years. We are sachetising the existing banking services in a way that it is making banking accessible to people nearby, while also handholding a technology shy population to the next stage of development. The low-cost alternative will take financial products to the pulse of the nation, and drive financial empowerment at the last-mile, which is imperative for the country’s vision for a digitally inclusive $5 trillion economy.
“This seamless banking experience will empower people who have bank accounts to the full range of financial services, including buying insurance, borrowing, exploring various investment opportunities, and building their savings, thus changing landscape of banking in India.”
Paytm Payments Bank
Launched in 2017, Paytm Payments Bank Limited (PPBL) offers a ‘Cash at Home’ facility for senior and differently-abled citizens in the national capital region (NCR). The process of availing the service, which was launched in May 2020, is simple and seamless, owing to the customers it serves.
Any senior citizen who has a savings account with the Paytm Payments Bank can call the helpline number and request for cash. The bank executive would deliver the requested amount at their registered address within two days of raising the request. The minimum amount that can be requested is Rs. 1,000, and the maximum amount is limited to Rs. 5,000.
Satish Kumar Gupta, MD and CEO, Paytm Payments Bank, said, “During the pandemic, we have continued to launch several new services to make the banking experience more convenient and accessible for our customers. Our ‘Cash at Home’ facility has proved to be of immense help to those people who cannot visit an ATM or bank branch due to age, health, or any other issues. We are soon planning to expand this facility to all our customers across India.”
Airtel Payments Bank
Airtel Payments Bank was launched in January 2017 in a bid to take banking services to the unbanked villages in rural India, and help them contribute to financial inclusion. It has been working towards taking hyperlocal banking services to the doorstep of its customer.
For this, besides being completely paperless and fully digital, the company built an innovative and strong network of banking correspondents (the neighbourhood kirana stores), which are easily accessible to residents in and around the locality.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, Airtel Payments Bank leveraged this retail-based banking network to ensure basic financial services are at an arm’s length for customers.
Over 200,000 banking correspondents worked on the ground to make sure customers can withdraw cash, make money transfers, and even buy a range of insurance (health, life, and general) products without having to step out of their neighbourhood.
Edited by Suman Singh
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