While fintechs play a major role in scripting India’s growth story, bringing much needed financial inclusion across the country, they also play a significant role in empowering women.
To empower women in rural areas, micro-ATM fintech organizations collaborate with the various women-focused programs like “Bank Sakhi”. Rural women are trained by Fintech institutions and serve as micro-automatons to facilitate the lives of rural people in the era of the pandemic.
Under these programs, women in the Sakhi Mandals are trained as Bank Sakhis, banking correspondents and Micro ATM traders. These women offer banking services like account opening, cash deposit and withdrawal, money transfer, loan, etc. home. These women are trained to bring banking services to remote areas of the state.
With the help of micro ATMs, these women are increasing financial inclusion and delivering government programs while earning a living. As of February 2020, 6,094 Bank Sakhis across 12 states had collectively carried out 748,454 transactions worth Rs 26,635 lakh (about $40 million). While Bank Sakhi’s model is an innovative strategy to achieve financial inclusion, it was women banking agents who were poised to deepen the provision of last mile financial services, especially for female customers, in hard-to-reach rural areas.
Micro ATMs have been a precession for the financial inclusion of underbanked areas of the country. The need for entry of micro ATMs in all cities is to provide their financial services to the cash rich economy of rural India. This is reflected in cash withdrawals from micro ATMs, which stood at Rs 26,830 crore in August 2021, compared to Rs 19,513 crore a year ago.
In addition to being low-budget and easy to use, micro-automats are also a source of additional income for rural traders, especially women. Each transaction additionally creates a commission for the women in the self-help group, who receive a monthly commission for their services rendered. Such discs allow the remote local area to access money, help them buy and produce goods, and create additional income for themselves.
Rural account holders are now increasingly satisfied with the financial services rendered by their neighborhood banking agents, and so native Kirana are watching this down to the micro-ATM points.
Small ATMs, apart from being low budget to line up and simple to operate, provide additional financial gain to merchants. Many banks and fintech companies are integrating Kiranas, chemists, grocery stores, etc. locals in addition to their local bank or fintech agents.
According to data from Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in November 2020, 68.4 million withdrawals worth Rs 18,820 crore were processed through AePS compared to 39 million withdrawals worth Rs 9,778 crores of rupees during the same period of the year 2019.
Empowering women is an important component of India’s socio-economic growth. The government and many other agencies are taking steps to further improve the situation through various policies aimed at social reform and job creation. “One of the important factors that would lead to the empowerment of women in India is their financial independence. Women must be economically autonomous. This will empower women and give them the freedom to choose. This will allow them to freely take advantage of the various options available to them. It will make women’s life fulfilling and joyful.
Once a woman becomes financially independent and can exercise her choices, she can also help her mother, sister, daughter and other women in society gain power. This will elevate the position of women in society and lead to equality.
According to the World Bank’s Empowering women through the Financial Report, “women are more likely to save, allocate, and invest money to protect themselves against unexpected expenses and in their children’s education. , thereby enabling the next generation to earn a better living.”
(Ram Shriram is CEO of rural fintech company Mahagram. Opinions are personal.)
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Posted: Saturday, March 26, 2022, 8:34 PM IST