Digital Doorstep Banking: Female Banking Agents Lead Digital Financial Inclusion Through the Pandemic and Beyond
Pinto, Alreena Renita; Arora, Amit | January 0008
This paper discusses the business correspondent (BC)–agent banking model in India against the backdrop of community-based rural livelihood programs, its relevance in facilitating financial inclusion in underserved rural geographies, and its potential to address the gender gap in financial inclusion. In recent years, India has made significant progress toward financial inclusion with the support of technological and policy innovations, but there remains a gap in access to basic banking services for women, particularly rural women. The launch of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) in 2014 resulted in the opening of 420 million bank accounts, of which 53.26% belonged to women, though surveys have suggested that almost 55% of women remained registered inactive users. The World Bank supported rural livelihood programs in India have been instrumental in the institutional strengthening of 6.9 million women’s self-help groups (SHGs) and have facilitated their access to savings and credit to the tune of US$3.7 billion (INR260 billion) and US$56 billion (INR3600 billion), respectively, while creating an ecosystem for the deployment of female members as BC agents across rural India. The paper uses a gender and technology lens to explore the role of female banking agents in facilitating access to social security transfers using fingerprint-based biometric authentication solutions during the nationwide pandemic related lockdown in India between March 2020 and July 2020. Using data from multiple small samples of banking agents, this paper describes the on-the-ground challenges observed in the provision of basic banking services to access cash transfers during the pandemic. Extrapolating from this experience, the paper makes a case for strengthening the agent banking ecosystem, improving the delivery architecture for direct benefit transfers (DBTs), encouraging competition between banking service providers, and providing demand-based financial products and services to expand gender-focused financial inclusion further.
CitationPinto, Alreena Renita; Arora, Amit. 0008. Digital Doorstep Banking: Female Banking Agents Lead Digital Financial Inclusion Through the Pandemic and Beyond. © Asian Development Bank Institute. http://hdl.handle.net/11540/14231. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
Urban Development Finance
Small Business Finance
Roundtable on International Trade and Finance
Regional Development Finance
Public Service Finance
Non-Bank Financial Institutions
Local Government Finance
Local Currency Financing
Limited Resource Financing
International Financial Institutions
Government Financial Institutions
Financing of Infrastructure
Financial Sector Development
Foreign direct investment
Financial Sector Reform
Equal employment opportunity
Fair employment practice
Affirmative action programs
Sex discrimination against women
Equal rights amendment
Emancipation of women
Women in sustainable development
Gender mainstreamingShow allCollapse
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