Ananya Chatterjee is a social worker who works for a NGO that aims to increase the general awareness levels of rural women. She has to travel frequently to rural India to conduct awareness programs and various other campaigns.
Everything is hunky-dory, as she loves what she does.
However, there’s a slight hitch that comes with living in remote villages – personal banking is no longer a breeze as it is in cities. From being an indispensable convenience, it nosedives into being an unenviable pain. The long trudges in sweltering heat to the nearby bank branch and the unending queues are a far cry from the swipe-and-click banking Ananya’s used to.
The far-flung places Ananya frequents normally have just one or two banks. Due to lack of infrastructure and lower literacy rates of rural customers, bank officials are forced to fill out forms for them.
The result? What takes minutes in urban branches takes hours in outlying and rural areas. Carrying cash in bulk around is not an option either.
When Ananya bought a smart phone, it was for an entirely unrelated reason – to reclaim her almost-dead social life. Little did she know that it was going to solve her banking problems as well!
If 2014 was a crawl phase for mobile banking in India, 2015 already sees mobile banking standing up on its own two feet.
More encouragingly, mobile banking promises to be India’s sweet spot in the coming years. Since a major chunk of the Indian populace is still ‘unbanked’ due to the challenge of access and affordability, mobile banking has the potential to help Indian banking leapfrog through time and bring personal banking to the doorstep of the individual despite the poor branch network in the hinterlands.
Mobile banking is mainly done through Short Messaging Service (SMS), General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) or at times Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD).
The services available range from intra- and inter-bank money transfers, account statement enquiries, service requests for DDs or cheque books etc. and bill payments, to demat services, mobile recharging, shopping payments and stop-payment instructions.
With around 900 million mobile subscribers, mobile banking presents the masses with a fast, convenient, low-cost, user-friendly, and safe channel for users across the country to execute banking transactions.
And, as ironic as it sounds, Indian villages will be much ahead of the curve in mobile banking in the next five years when compared to their urban brethren.
Banks too are leaving no rupee unturned to promote mobile banking. Almost every major bank has made mobile banking their thrust by now. 2015 will focus more on doing away with zero-value complexities and further simplifying the process. Vastly increased customer base, reduced paperwork and consequent bulge in profits are just some of the factors driving banks to push the mobile calling card.
Can mobile banking completely replace our conventional brick-and-mortar banking? Perhaps not. But, can it bring back the swipe-and-click into banking even if you’re in the remotest corner of India?
Look no further for the answer. The gleam in Ananya’s eyes tells its own story.