India’s failed experiment to bring gender parity through a women’s bank ended on March 31st; the three-year-old Bharatiya Mahila Bank was merged with State Bank of India. If women’s access and usage of banking is to increase, rather than a separate bank, we need significant change within all banks – more sensitive KYC requirements, more women agents etc. Yet, the first step to recognising the problem is in measuring it and in India, we have not even got as far as collecting gender disaggregated data – a task that the RBI has yet to commit to. Read the guidance note by the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) for examples of national strategies that work, Integrating Gender and Women’s Financial Inclusion into National Strategies .
A detailed user interface design guide is now available for payment apps, based on a comparative review of the Airtel Money, BHIM, Buddy, Jana Cash, PayTM, and Pockets apps ( See Anand Raman and Leena Datwani, CGAP, March 2017) . This will be extremely useful for all digital financial services. However, NPCI and RBI should release more detailed analytics of the transaction volumes under each player, to help highlight the laggards, and hence the issues to address, in payments solutions.
With a plethora of new digital payment modes now (UPI, Bharat QR, Bhim etc.), the massive policy push towards a less-cash economy will succeed with a) reliable connectivity across the country and b) a focus on consumer protection. Read Nandan Nilekani’s take: Seminal year for move towards cashless payments.