Doorstep banking is one of the newest additions to the financial services landscape in India, and it has taken off almost as soon as it was introduced in December 2014. What makes this service so attractive? First, people want to save money, and doorstep banking provides an easy way to do this by dropping savings into a lockable box at the door of their home or business. Second, with few branches available in India and most customers having to travel long distances just to visit one, having someone who comes directly to you to handle your transactions is not only convenient but also cuts down on costs associated with travel.
1) Why doorstep banking is relevant?
Doorstep banking is a system of delivering financial services to underserved populations. The idea behind it is that reaching people where they live, can improve access to basic financial services. Doorstep banking allows customers to make deposits and withdrawals, open new accounts, take out loans, transfer funds and receive payments all at their home or workplace—as opposed to walking into a brick-and-mortar bank branch.
2) Growth Of Doorstep Banking
Doorstep banking, or bank agents as they are more properly known, have been introduced to overcome a very serious financial inclusion problem. With over 70% of Indians living in rural areas, it is difficult for people to access banks. In addition, only 5 % of villages across India have a bank branch within one kilometer of their homes. There are nearly 7,000 bank branches and 47,000 bank ATMs in India but most of them are located in big cities with just 40% being accessible to people outside urban centers.
Through a government initiative called Jan Dhan Yojana (People Wealth Scheme), launched on 28 August 2014, it was proposed that every Indian household should be linked to at least one of these accounts by 26 January 2015.
This goal was reached well ahead of schedule. The benefits offered under Jan Dhan Yojana include accident insurance cover of Rs. 1 lakh, zero balance account that gives you a RuPay Debit Card with an inbuilt accident insurance cover of Rs.1 lakh, life insurance cover of Rs. 30,000 and accidental death & disability cover of Rs. 30,000.
A move toward savings
Most Indians save little or nothing. In fact, consumer debt is outpacing consumer credit, resulting in a growing negative saving rate—meaning people are borrowing more than they’re saving. According to a 2020 survey by consulting firm McKinsey & Company, two-thirds of Indians had not even bothered to open a bank account (not surprising given that 60 percent of households still do not have access to formal financial services). However, all that may be changing thanks to one little finance innovation: doorstep banking.
Small banks are setting up branches near villages, which means it’s now easier for villagers to save money with them. Villagers can take their money out easily if they need it, but researchers say an array of options creates a sense of thin commitment—making it less likely they will spend it carelessly. Now that small banks have installed ATMs in rural areas, 92 percent of Indian adults report using banking services on at least a monthly basis. The result? Savings rates are up, incomes are too, and microloans to entrepreneurs have increased as well. So what does all of this mean? More prosperity from fewer resources—which just might help curb poverty while protecting ecosystems across Asia as well. The bottom line: When we offer convenient ways for people to manage their finances, they often rise to the occasion; so whether you work in government or private industry, try expanding financial education opportunities within your organization and community.
Increased savings, formal and informal
Accenture recently reported that based on a sample of its doorstep bank customers, formal savings have increased by 100% or more for 15.4% of account holders, while informal savings are up by 88.6%. Accenture also found that 34.1% said their overall incomes had increased since using Accenture’s technology to automate payments and receipts.
The report concluded that 85% of people who receive financial services from doorstep banks tell others about these services, suggesting an increased adoption rate as it becomes easier for people to talk about their experiences with financial providers. Therefore, there is potential for even larger growth in markets where access is limited because many other people would like to take advantage of these technologies. Access can be expanded through partnerships among local businesses, governments, and non-profit organizations so every household will be able to participate. This is just one example of how digital solutions can enable sustainable inclusive economic growth opportunities around the world.
Doorstep banks serve as a lifeline for millions of Indians. As they lift millions out of poverty, they also encourage saving, which can help pave the way toward prosperity. It’s vital that governments support these organizations—with policies and funding—to ensure their growth. If nothing else, it’s crucial to keep these new forms of banking accessible to all members of society as an essential step toward achieving financial equality across India.