Last month saw the release of two data rich reports that reveal the demand side of rural India. The first report, NABARD’s All India Rural Financial Inclusion Survey 2016-17, presents a baseline of indicators like savings, debt, income, expenditure, investment, consumption pattern, borrowing behaviour, financial literacy, usage of FI technology, insurance coverage, pension, etc. To be conducted every three years, the survey will bring out a true picture of the progress of financial inclusion over time. The report is full of insights into rural finances and financial behaviour across states of India. For instance, 88.1% of the households surveyed reported having a bank account, which shows the reach of the banking system post - PMJDY. However, just 55% of agricultural households reported any savings at all over the last year, which points to low savings capabilities. Further, of those who did save, only 53% did so with institutions like banks, post offices and SHGs.

The second report, by MicroSave, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana: A demand-side diagnostic study of LPG refills surveys beneficiaries in three states to understand the reasons behind low offtake of refill LPG cylinders. Having found that the profile of PMUY customers is strikingly different from an average, non - PMUY customer in terms of fuel needs, fuel usage pattern, family size, safety standards, and most importantly, income levels, the study makes recommendations to raise affordability and access to the refills, while cautioning that most households view LPG as a luxury good, to be used only in special circumstances.

Fine granular data enables policy makers and industry to better understand the target segment, and to finetune financial inclusion and DBT strategies. However, in its Annual Report for 2017-18, released on August 29, the Reserve Bank of India continues to disappoint. The section on the progress of financial inclusion remains in aggregate numbers of accounts and agents, without going into any granular detail of usage of the bank accounts or activity of agents. Hopefully, the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion document being finalised by the Financial Inclusion Advisory Committee will ensure that the lacunae in data collection and monitoring are addressed.

Meanwhile, the India Post Payments Bank was finally launched by the Prime Minister on 1st September 2018 – currently operating through 650 branches and 3,250 access points, all 1.55 lakh post offices and 3 lakh rural post workers will be linked by December 2018. As other Payments Banks have been running up against the regulator, could this tortoise overtake the hares and take India’s financial inclusion story up another level?


• Closing India's Gender Gap in Financial Inclusion - Policy Brief, June2018
• India's Direct Benefit Transfer Programme - An Update - Policy Brief, May 2018
Innovation in Retail Payments - Urjit R. Patel, Governor, Reserve Bank of India, August 16, 2018
Public Credit Registry (PCR) and Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN): Giant Strides to Democratise and Formalise Credit in India - Dr. Viral V. Acharya, Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India, August 20, 2018
• ICFI Blog: Policies for India's Digital Economy - an update, August 2018
Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana Progress Report
RBI Electronic Payment Systems – Data


India Moves Toward Universal Financial Inclusion

Consumer Protection in the Digital Age

Interoperability pits payment banks against mobile wallets

Your friendly neighbourhood postman is about to become a banker

Google Tez is now Google Pay, to offer instant bank loans

Airtel Payments Bank cuts interest rate to 4 percent on savings account effective Sep 1

Google to slug it out with Paytm, WhatsApp to lead India's digital payments market

UPI 2.0, BHIM and the new shape of payments

UPI 2.0 launched. Here are its key features

UPI transactions spike on back of version 2.0; August volume up 32%

Half of farm households indebted: NABARD study

88 per cent rural households have savings account: Nabard survey

All you need to know about NABARD's 'agriculture household' survey

Building Rural Digital Ecosystems, One Small Payment at a Time

(Video) International remittances via mobile money


Using Satellite Data to Scale Smallholder Agricultural Insurance, CGAP, August 2018

Fintech Study to Model a Financial Inclusion Lab, MicroSave, August 2018

Mobile money app security best practices, GSMA, August 2018

Distribution 2.0: The future of mobile money agent distribution networks, GSMA, August 2018


Editor: The Indicus Centre for Financial Inclusion was launched in 2011 to distill and disseminate information on accelerating the poor’s access to high-quality financial services. The center is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. ©Indicus Centre for Financial Inclusion. All rights reserved. 5th September 2018.

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