State Bank of India has tied up with SREI Sahaj, a subsidiary of Srei Infrastructure that operates several broadband enabled Common Service Centers in India, in the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa and Tamil Nadu. The banking services in rural areas will be provided through Sahaj Rural Development Foundation (SRDF), and possibly at the 16,000 CSCs that SREI claims to have set up.

Last month, SBI tied up with Airtel and BSNL to launch mobile money transfer in India. 67.28 percent of its total 12,207 branches are present in rural and semi urban areas and the bank has plans to launch 1200 biometric ATMs in rural areas. MediaNama readers might recall that in December, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had allowed “business correspondents” to provide banking services, in order to facilitate the opening of more bank accounts, and bring more and more people into the banking ecosystem.

Sahaj CSC Services

Sahaj also intends to offer other services like Insurance, Mutual Funds and other financial products as per guidelines laid down by regulatory bodies. Business Correspondents are also allowed to disburse small value credit, recover principal and collect interest, collect small value deposits, sell micro insurance, mutual fund products, pension products, and receive and deliver small value remittances.

At present 32 services are available at Sahaj CSCs including  Internet, e-Learning, electric bill collection, BSNL bill collection, mobile top ups, railway reservation, LIC premium collection, rural-job portal (Chaakri), e-Commerce, matrimonial, distance education etc.

61 percent of the rural Indian population do not have access to banks and its the worst in the North-Eastern and Eastern regions of the country. The partnership will allow the poor especially farmers to have bank accounts, credit history and insurance which will help them to access capital and receive disbursements from the Government directly, without intermediaries.

Recently the Agriculture Department of Andhra Pradesh launched a pilot programme for providing online services to farmers through the CSCs.

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