A transformative piece of legislation was introduced on 3rd March 2016 by the Government in the Parliament: The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery Of Financial And Other Subsidies, Benefits And Services) Bill, 2016. As introduced, the Bill will allow the smooth rollout of the Direct Benefits Transfers programme, where JAM (Jan Dhan account number + Aadhaar number + Mobile number) will prove the effective enabler for government benefits delivery. The Bill is expected to be passed by March 16th 2016. In the Budget Speech on 29th February, the Finance Minister also announced extension of DBT for fertilizer subsidy, with pilots to be operational soon.
The Cabinet announced the approval of a set of measures to promote digital payments (PIB Release 24th February 2016), including steps for withdrawal of surcharge/service charge/ convenience fee on card/ digital payments currently imposed by various government agencies, introduction of appropriate acceptance infrastructure in government agencies, rationalization of Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) on card transactions and a differentiated MDR framework for some key transaction segments, rationalisation of telecom service charges for digital financial transactions, promotion of mobile banking, creation of necessary assurance mechanisms for quick resolution of fraudulent transactions etc.
Another welcome move for financial inclusion came from NABARD to facilitate the use of Self Help Group leaders/members as BC agents. The Reserve Bank of India has also set up guidelines for credit reporting by SHG members. The role of women as BC agents is crucial to correct the severe gender inequality in access to financial services and the experiences of the GIZ-NABARD pilots to test the convergence of 'SHG-Bank Linkage programme with BC model' by appointing SHG members as BC agents and digitisation of transactions can be seen in this short film. Even as the new niche banks like Payments Banks and Small Finance Banks roll out their operations over the year ahead, connecting with existing rural networks will strengthen the last mile.
The monthly newsletter from the Indicus Centre for Financial Inclusion documents the latest news and views in the financial inclusion space, to provide a knowledge base that will help build understanding around how to accelerate the poor’s access to high-quality financial services. Editor: Sumita Kale can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Indicus Centre for Financial Inclusion was launched in 2011 to distil and disseminate information on accelerating the poor’s access to high-quality financial services. The Centre is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. http://www.indicus.net/icfi