Banking the Unbanked

Adarsh Credit Co-Operative Society is leveraging mobility solutions to empower the low-income population in the far-flung rural areas of the country

India today is grappling with the issue of financial inclusion. The grave situation of rural banking can be gauged from a report by National Sample Survey Organization, which states that 51.4% of the 89.3 mn farmer households in the country have no access to credit. As per census figures, just 145 mn of India’s 247 mn households have access to a bank account.

While only a few rural residents have access to bank accounts, there are about 930.2 mn mobile subscribers in the country. This is the key reason why India’s leading multi-state co-operative society, Adarsh Credit Cooperative Society, turned to the mobile platform to fulfill its vision of delivering financial services at the doorstep of low-income groups in rural areas.

“The task of financial inclusion is gigantic. To achieve this, we need to think beyond traditional ways and delivery channels. As a mobile handset is the lifeline of every Indian, we have decided to use the medium to reach a common man without a bank account. With the implementation of the mobile service, we have been able to efficiently and transparently execute doorstep financial services,” says Himanshu Shah, CTO, Adarsh Credit Cooperative Society.

Reaching Out
In order to provide doorstep financial services to population in Indian villages, Adarsh gave phablets installed with SAP Sybase 365 to its more than 100,000 financial advisors who go door-to-door in some of the remotest villages of India. The app is used for direct collection from customers and the transaction happens in real-time. As soon as the transaction happens, the customer gets an update about the balance. The mobile app is secure, scalable, and easily integrates with society’s other core-banking systems. The app has the capability to work in both: Online and offline mode, enabling advisors to work seamlessly in areas with low connectivity.

“Earlier, for depositing money, customers had to travel to brick and mortar branches of banks, stand in queues, fill the pay-in slips, wait for the token and then deposit money. Today, the society visits the customers and collects the money; within no time, the money gets reflected in the customer’s account. The app has led to higher visibility of the cash flow,” asserts Shah.

Adarsh completed the project implementation in three months in various phases. “We started with region wise implementation and then the project was rolled out pan-India,” says Shah.

To ensure secure transactions, the app has a robust security mechanism with a two-level authentication process. In case there is no data connection, an SMS is sent in an encrypted form.

Today, through its branches and over 100,000 financial advisors, Adarsh has reached 1 mn customers. Thanks to the app, on an average Adarsh’s advisors are able to meet 250 people daily for financial transactions. The app has thus resulted in 20% increase in the productivity of advisors and has reduced operational cost.

Adarsh’s initiative is definitely a step in the right direction to extend financial inclusion to remote rural areas of the country and is in alignment with RBI’s goal of creating a cashless society. It is also a perfect example of how mobility can be leveraged to deliver financial services to the bottom of the pyramid.