India needs 500 million bank in the palm devices for powering financial inclusion

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Solar Mobile Phone

LS Subramanian, CEO, NISE LS Subramanian, CEO, NISE


The Indian unbanked population stood at 233 Million in 2015, almost half from 577 million in 2011, of which about 182 million were included in the year 2014 as per data provided in a PWC report.  The challenge is to make banking easy and effective for the unbanked population of India, the way ahead is in taking the bank into the palms of its customers.

The solution lies in using digitally enabled banking devices which must have the following features:

1. Solar charging inbuilt

2. A keypad which supports Indian languages

3. A toughened display screen

4. A customized operating system secured for banking

5. A biometric reader

6. Wireless connectivity to a hotspot

7. Adequate memory for running the banking application in the device

8. A tough casing which is shockproof

9. Ability to withstand extreme temperatures from Thar to Leh.


The target price for these phones must be Rs 100-150 per phone which is the price of the plastic card issued for financial inclusion. The customers connection for banking must be enabled through WiFi hotspots ( equivalent of a bank branch) provided for connectivity through wireless for banking. The way forward will be the issuing these devices for financial inclusion or for that matter for any citizen who is a customer of the bank.

Banking through financial inclusion can only happen if the control is in the palm of the customer hence there is a need for these devices. The opportunity is to create 500 million devices. If you include all the customers of the Indian banks, we will need a billion devices.

The introduction of a customer owned digital banking device will make digital money a reality and make the Indian economy stronger. We have the backbone for support digital inclusion from NPCI and it is time that the banks took the lead in introducing banking in the palm of the customer thus ushering in digital money. This will usher in inclusive and vibrant economy in India and also will suck out the cash from the financial ecosystem and make India a global economic superpower.


- The author , L S Subramanian, is CEO of NISE.  LS (as he is called) is also a respected thought leader known for his innovation in information technology for business. He is the architect of the OTC Exchange of India, India’s first online trading national stock exchange and has advised NCDEX, Power Exchange, CRISIL, Exchange Next  and other companies in trading solutions and processes. He can be reached at

Other articles by L S Subramanian

How a solar mobile phone can transform banking for the poor in India

Bharat Badal – Why rural India needs a national cloud computing plan?

Why India needs to build 100 new smart cities from the ground up

Can Indian banks do a Flipkart in customer service?

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