What is Financial Inclusion

Financial Inclusion is the delivery of banking and financial services at an affordable cost to vast sections of disadvantaged and low income group customers. The basic concept of financial inclusion involves having a saving or current account with any bank and having access to loans, insurance services and other similar services.

 

Mr K.C. Chakrabarty, Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India, defined financial inclusion as “the process of ensuring access to appropriate financial products and services needed by vulnerable groups such as weaker sections and low-income groups at an affordable cost in a fair and transparent manner by mainstream institutional players.”

 

In the first-ever Index of Financial Inclusion to find out the extent of reach of banking services among 100 countries, India has been ranked 50. Only 34% of Indian individuals have access to or receive banking services. In order to increase this number the Reserve Bank of India had the Government of India take innovative steps. With the directive from RBI, our banks are now offering “No Frill” Accounts to low income groups. These accounts either have a low minimum or nil balance with some restriction in transactions.

 

Financial inclusion mainly focuses on the poor who do not have formal financial institutional support and getting them out of the clutches of local money lenders. As a first step towards this, some of our banks have now come forward with general purpose credit cards and artisan credit cards which offer collateral-free small loans. The RBI has simplified the KYC (Know your customer) norms for opening a ‘No frill’ account. This will help the low income individual to open a ‘No Frill’ account without identity proof and address proof.

 

In such cases banks can take the individual’s introduction from an existing customer whose full KYC norm procedure has been completed. And the introducer must have a satisfactory transaction with the bank for at least 6 months. This simplified procedure is available to those who intend to keep a balance not exceeding Rs.50,000 in all accounts taken together. With this facility we can channel the untapped, considerable amount of money from the low income group to the formal economy. Banks are now permitted to utilize the service of NGOs, SHGs and other civil society organizations as intermediaries in providing financial and banking services through the use of business facilitator and business correspondent models.

 

Key objectives of Financial Inclusion:

  • Extending formal banking system among lower income group customers in urban & rural India.
  • Weaning them away from unorganized money markets and moneylenders.
  • Equipping them with the confidence to make informed financial decisions.