Mobile banking goes to rural India

State-run Canara Bank's two sponsored regional rural banks (RRBs) in Kerala and Karnataka on Wednesday launched an immediate payment service through the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).

"The innovative facility will enable customers of Kerala Gramin Bank and Pragathi Krishna Gramin Bank to send and receive payments from their mobile handset round-the-clock and throughout the year," NPCI chairman M. Balachandran told reporters here.As an affordable payment mechanism to benefit common man across the country and help financial inclusion, NPCI was set up in 2009 as a not-for-profit organisation with Rs.300-crore authorised capital and Rs.100-crore paid-up capital by six state-run, two private and two overseas banks as its co-financers. "The two RRBs are first in the southern region to provide the unique inter-bank remittance processing service through our network using mobile, internet and ATM (automatic teller machine) on 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Balachandran said on the occasion.

Kerala Gramin Bank operates in all the 14 districts of Kerala through 565 branches, 157 banking kiosks (Akshaya centres), three BCA (banking business correspondents) and 202 ATMs.With Rs.20,940 crore business in fiscal 2014-15, KGB ranks top among the 55 RRBs across the country.Pragathi Krishna Gramin Bank operates in 11 of the 30 districts across north and east Karnataka with 645 branches, 881 BCAs and 210 ATMs. It ranks second among all the RRBs, with Rs.19,467-crore business in last fiscal (FY 2015).

"Our two RRBs extensively use information and communications technology (ICT) to provide multiple products and services to around 12 million customers, whose accounts are connected to the system through the core banking solution," Canara Bank executive director Pradyman Singh Rawat said.

The RRBs will use posters, leaflets and visuals to create awareness about the instant service among their customers, especially farmers and traders, train them to download the specific application and adopt it to transfer money to the intended recipients."Details of account holders are connected to our data centres in Mumbai and Chennai for allowing payment transfers at a nominal service fee of 50 paise," NPCI chief executive A.P. Hota told IANS on the margins of the launch event.Two RRBs at Benares and Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh and one RRB at Aurangabad in Marthwada region of Maharashtra started providing the immediate payment service through Union Bank of India, Bank of Baroda and Bank of Maharashtra. Unlike real-time gross settlement (RTGS) and national electronic fund transfer (NEFT), which operate from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on working days, the immediate payment service will be available throughout the year anywhere, anytime.