The banking landscape in India is going through its unusual phase currently. With several government initiatives like Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, people in rural areas who were away from banking, are being inducted into the formal banking system. The adoption of technology to make banking services accessible conveniently in the community has given a boost to the financial inclusion efforts.
Improved life of Merchants
Bharat Money Store, an extension of BFIL and IndusInd Bank, has been at the forefront making banking available digitally to the people in rural and remote areas through its network of 15,000 merchants in 5000 villages across over 74 districts. Built on the Aadhar architecture (eKYC, AEPS), the concept has transformed the local Kirana shop into a digital store providing a one-stop solution for all banking needs – Electronics & utility bill payments, Loans, SB & RD account, Money transfer, cash withdrawals to name a few. Earlier the merchants had the Kirana store as a single income source. After joining the BMS, the identity of the merchant has changed to the neighbourhood bank. They have gained more respect and trust from the customers for being The Bank. An additional reliable income source for the merchants, their earnings have grown 2X through incentives earned on various transactions due to the increase in footfall. BMS has also helped in growing and expanding their business by providing loans to the merchants based on the transactions they have administered.
“I am working as a BMS merchant from the last 2 years. Earlier, the income was low, and I struggled financially due to my kid’s medical expenses. Since, last 2 years, I have been conducting transactions worth 10-12 lakhs. My income has increased, and I have become financially strong.” says Kalavathi from Gulbarga.
Easy and convenient banking in the neighbourhood
Like merchants, customers have hugely benefitted from this initiative. Considering the unavailability of bank branches in their vicinity, BMS has been a blessing for them. Customers do not have to travel long distances to withdraw or deposit money, open a savings or RD account. They can transact at a nearby Bharat Money Store in smaller amounts in terms of deposit and withdrawals without any charge, which may not be allowed at a bank branch. The customers can also avail the facility of loans with the instant Credit check and easy process, reducing the percentage of fraudulent ways of lending. The concept has made banking easy, accessible, and convenient for both – customers and merchants with the removal of the need to visit the branch.
The COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a huge impact on the economy and the people’s lives. It also affected our merchants who were not able to open their shops due to the lockdown. With various initiatives and establishing effective communication, BMS has continuously supported the merchants and customers. We ensured that every merchant receives the essential service provider letter issued by RBI for the smooth functioning of shops during the lockdown. Merchants provided services to the people to keep the cash flowing in the rural areas, avoiding nonessential travel to the branches in such a situation. Our customer service executives provided on-time resolutions to the issues faced by merchants and customers in terms of app or transaction failure due to poor network connectivity. We also kept our merchants updated on various products and offers through training so that no customer should face any type of inconvenience. Owing to such quick measures, we could service 4 lakh beneficiaries under the Government of India’s DBT model and help them with cash withdrawals and deposits, and 3.7 lakh additional customers with bills & utility payments and other AEPS transactions.