Our 626,000 villages make up 70 percent of the workforce and contribute 20% to India’s GDP. Yet rural India is severely impoverished. The Rangarajan Committee defines financial inclusion as “ensuring access to financial services, including timely and adequate credit where needed to vulnerable and low income groups, at affordable costs.”
Even after the RBI declared “a bank account for every household” as a primary policy goal, a staggering 40 percent of India remains unbanked. The primary reason for that is rural India is considered unprofitable for traditional banking operations.
On the other hand, an estimated 8 million rural Indians who own mobile phones do not have access to banks. According to the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), rural tele-density has soared to 12.72 percent from 0.4 percent in the past decade. So, technological innovations built on telecommunications network can quickly fill this vacuum.
Zero, a mobile platform for branchless banking aims to completely transform banking as we know it in rural areas. Created by Zero Mass foundation, Zero is a an end-to-end technology driven platform for branchless banking – enabling banking , insurance and other such services to reach the rural population. The main features of the Zero platform are :
- Mobile phone as a core bank branch
- Biometric Authentication in the local service area
- Voice prompts during enrolment and transactions
The platform converts low cost NFC (Near field communication) mobile phones with large storage capacity into a secure, self-sufficient bank branch. It uses biometrics based customer ID for opening no-frill accounts and supports all types of transactions in the village with the local Customer Service Point (CSP) acting as a Teller.
The applications range from Money Transfer, NREGA/Pension payouts, Micro Credit to SHG Disbursals and repayments.
In January 2009, GPS functionality was launched on the standard ZERO platform for automatic tagging of latitude, longitude and global time to customer enrolments.
Zero Mass Foundation is presently the largest business correspondent in the Indian banking sector (by number of affiliated banks & live outlets) having tie-ups with 25 banks led by the State Bank of India.
As of now, over 3 million unbanked customers across 20,000 villages in 18 states have opened biometric-enabled accounts on the Zero platform.
With over 25,000 new accounts being opened everyday, ZERO platform is making our society more inclusive by the day.
For more information, please visit their website: www.alittleworld.com