BSNL 4G will be one of the biggest gamechangers that India is going to see, Gopal Srinivasan, Chairman and Managing Director of Capital Funds said at the launch of IIT-Madras Research Park and IITM Incubation Cell 10X programme’s report on ‘Financial Inclusion Challenges’ in the country.
Srinivasan said that India has the largest public digital infrastructure with JAM (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile numbers), UPI, GST, FASTag and now more recently ONDC. He called it “a paradise” in terms of public digital infrastructure.
“Especially with connectivity, BSNL 4G is the most underestimated impact that India is going to see,” he said. “Because 4G BSNL is a real big thing in terms of sorting many of the issues of last mile connectivity. That’s a huge thing that I see as a big impact item.”
Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala, president of IIT Madras Research Park, IITM Incubation Cell & RTBI said that while India was doing well in terms of economic growth and fintech, there was a concern around the fact that almost 85% of the people have less than Rs 25,000 per month as income.
“And no one is talking about fintech for that (group of people),” he said. “Fintech was largely for high income, somewhat mid-income people, upper middle class, upper classes. The 85% of our households which have low income, if we do not figure out technologies to help them, then India is not going to meet the dreams that we all have been talking about.”
Keeping inclusion as the premise, he said the report aims to highlight the gaps in financial inclusion despite transformation in the financial services sector with a goal to enable India to become a leader in fintech for inclusion by 2030.
Over the last decade, financial services in India have undergone a transformation driven by technology enablers and supported by the government and regulators such as RBI. Interventions like the introduction of a national identification number (Aadhaar), Jan Dhan Yogna scheme, increased push towards digitisation via the UPI platform have played a key role.
However, people in low income groups and senior citizens often face challenges in accessing the full range of services from formal financial channels, The report outlines some of the obstacles in and recommendations to overcome them. Most significantly, accessibility to Cash In Cash Out (CICO), hidden banking charges, KYC processes and requirements for PAN, OTP and biometric verification were some of the biggest hurdles as noted by the report.
“India has made a lot of inroads be it BSNL 4G and many other advancements that have really come in during this period,” S Mahalingam, ex-chief financial officer of
said. “I feel that India is really in a position to take major leadership in terms of infusing technology in the area of financial inclusion and making sure that we will be able to develop the financial ecosystem very well.”
Prof V Kamakoti, Director of IIT Madras said that it was unfortunate that all the equipment for the banking system is being imported and he said that that is where young entrepreneurs should focus their energy to bring us “technological independence.”
“When the operating systems in the ATMs had to be upgraded, it was one overnight announcement by one of the operating system companies,” he recounted. “Then the regulator immediately sent a notice saying the operating system had to be upgraded and each upgrade cost Rs 7000. Imagine a bank with 35,000 ATMs… the total cost outlay. This is the dependency that we have as a country… This is technical slavery.”
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