Armed with smartphones and biometric scanners, the postman may soon don the role of part-time bankers for India's poorest!
Bringing millions of Indians into the formal banking system has been the endeavour of many governments. However, one potentially unique solution to achieving this was the establishment of the government-owned India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) incorporated under the Department of Posts on August 17, 2016.
Leveraging the reach of 1.55 lakh post offices branches and 3 lakh postal employees at India Post’s disposal, the IPPB’s objective is to deliver banking and financial services to the doorstep of every Indian.
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Now, in a bid to bring more Indians into the formal banking system, the IPPB will procure 1.6 lakh smartphones and approximately 2.7 biometric devices (scanners), reports the Hindu Business Line.
In other words, you may see the average postman, who delivers your money orders, letters and parcels from around India playing the role of a part-time banker as the government looks to extend these financial services to rural India.
Competing with private players, but with a greater reach, the IPPB is looking to absorb millions of deposits, provide customers with payment and remittance services and sell simple and low-risk insurance and mutual funds, among other financial products.
According to the Hindu Business Line, beginning with the launch of 3250 access points, the IPPB will seek to exponentially expand its footprint across India.
Addressing the Parliament earlier this year, Manoj Sinha, the Minister of State for Communications, said that the IPPB had already launched a branch in Raipur and Ranchi on a pilot basis.
“There would be a complete integration of IPPB branches with the 1.55 lakh post offices so that each post office functions as both a Postal Department outlet and an access point for the payments bank, subject to technical and commercial feasibility,” he said.
“The pan-India rollout of 650 branches is to commence from April 2018,” Sinha added.
Besides post office branches and employees working for the Postal Department, the IPPB is also looking to use the 995 ATMs of the Postal Department, to facilitate its operation. Their ATMs are linked to the ATM networks of other major financial institutions, and this entire endeavour is going to take enormous effort.
Earlier in June, Information and Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad claimed that 880 million bank accounts are linked to the Aadhaar system.
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Although the Centre has earmarked March 31 as the deadline to link your bank account with your Aadhaar number, the apex court intervened with an indefinite deadline extension until it adjudicates upon the legality of the entire system and associated parts.
The IPPB has given customers the option to de-link their Aadhaar details. When you sign up for the India Post Payments Bank, a customer is given the choice of either linking your Aadhaar details or not. However, there is also a third option— once you link your Aadhaar, you can delink it.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)
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