Business correspondents for rural banking proposed

Panel suggests setting up 10 lakh microATMs in the country

A high level panel led by UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) chairman Nandan Nilekani on Thursday suggested the government hire 10 lakh business correspondents to facilitate banking and financial services in rural areas which lacked banking services.

The recommendation came in the Report of the Task Force on an Aadhaar-Enabled Unified Payment Infrastructure submitted by Nilekani to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee here.
The report said business correspondents would ensure that benefit of the social sector schemes reached the targeted beneficiaries in about six lakh villages.

The panel also suggested setting up a network of 10 lakh micro ATMs around the country which will be small electronic devices in various villages.

These “mini ATMs” can be operated by business correspondents to make payments to
beneficiaries in 2.25 lakh gram panchayats spread across six lakh villages, besides serving the urban poor.

Banking correspondents are the persons who facilitate banking and financial services at places where full-fledged banking services are not available.

In order to set up the correspondents’ network expeditiously, the panel has recommended that last mile transaction fee of 3.14 per cent, with a cap of Rs 20 per transaction, be paid by the government to banks.

Later, Nilekani told reporters that one million business correspondents would  help making huge government payments of benefits and subsidies of about Rs 3 lakh crore through electronic mode, every year.

“The (Task Force’s) proposal is, how to make this much more in electronic manner and use Aadhaar as basis of crediting money in bank accounts,” he said adding, “We have been given direction to work on this and roll it out in next one year.”

While receiving the report, Pranab Mukherjee called for more pilot projects in different states to implement Aadhaar based e-payment system to check pilferage in social schemes.

At present, a pilot project to make payment for MGNREGA is being implemented in Jharkhand, LPG distribution in Mysore (Karnataka) and opening of bank accounts in Tumkur (Karnataka). One pilot project for mobile verification in Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh) is also proposed.

The panel has recommended that frontline development workers such as school teachers, Anganwadi workers, ASHA workers, who often do not receive their salaries on time, can also receive their salaries by direct deposit into their accounts at banks and post offices.
It also recommended that over a period of time, all government payments over the sum of Rs 1,000 be made or received electronically. The finance minister accepted the Task Force report in principle and stated that necessary steps would be taken to implement the recommendations. 

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