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Financial Inclusion: An Indian policy perspective

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1.1 Introduction

Financial Inclusion is the process of banking the “Unbanked'' in an ethical and economical manner. The term Unbanked stands for individuals or businesses who are economically disadvantaged and are either without any access to investment or credit facilities or cannot afford access to these services.

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1.2 The Need for Financial Inclusion

Financial inclusion brings more people into the economic zone, especially by developing the habit of saving and investing among a large segment of the rural population, thus aiding in the process of economic development. The unbanked population resort to borrowing from avaricious moneylenders and thus end up paying very high interest and are unable to escape the vicious cycle of poverty. By bringing these people within the perimeter of the formal banking sector and giving them access to formal credit services, financial inclusion protects their financial wealth and helps them move forward in life.

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2.1 Twin Roadblocks in India’s Journey to Become an Economic Superpower

The different deterrents that shackle India’s growth and prevent it from harnessing its full potential, can be grouped into two broad categories:

  1. Lack of Access to Banking Services

  2. Lack of Active Users of Banking Services

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In 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi envisioned India being a USD 5 trillion economy and a worldwide economic powerhouse by 2024-25. With this, India will become the world's third biggest economy. India has a very diverse population and roughly 20% of the adult population still does not have access to any kind of financial services let alone banking privileges. The issue is further aggravated due to the huge disparity between the active users of financial services and the one who probably never bothered to use bank accounts after the first initial deposit. In order to actualize the government’s dream of making India an economic superpower, and developing the unregulated informal economy, it would be a basic requirement for every Indian citizens to have access to financial services vis a vis using them optimally to enjoy the sweet perks of the diverse range of facilities the financial world has to offer.

2.1 Country with the second largest unbanked population globally - India

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According to the World Bank, over 1.6 billion adults do not have access to the services of banks or other financial services let alone the luxury of credit cards or airline miles: the unbanked have no checking, savings, or mobile money provider accounts, no access to financial products like insurance, loans or mortgages, no protection for their money from theft or loss.

According to a study by British research platform Merchant Machine, Morocco, Vietnam, Egypt, Philippines, Mexico are the top 5 countries, where the unbanked population percentage is the largest. But given the sheer size of the population, countries like China and India top the list despite having a relatively lower Unbanked Population percentage at 20%.

Investigating the issue of India’s high unbanked population by deep diving into the root cause of lack of access and dismal number of avid users of financial services.

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3.1 Limited Access to Banking Facilities

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70% of the Indian population resides in the rural areas, which are outside the umbrella of financial services. Most banks and financial institutions operate only in the urban areas and there are very few bricks and mortar branches located in rural areas for them to avail services and they have to travel significant distances to reach the nearest bank/insurance company. This combined with the lack of internet access makes them feel that the efforts are not worth the reward. India has a population that dwarfs the combined population of all the other countries in the graph below, but does not have enough brick and mortar branches to satisfy the financial needs of its burgeoning population.

3.1.1 PMJDY: False Starts or promising beginnings?

The Government of India had introduced the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) in 2014 to provide easy access to financial services such as remittance, credit, insurance, pension, savings, and deposits accounts to the poor and needy section of our society. No minimum balance had to be maintained unless a cheque facility was demanded, no charges were levied on individuals who open accounts. The only eligibility criteria are that the account can be opened only by a citizen of India, who is at least 10 years old and who does not have a bank account.

The government has claimed that PMJDY has revolutionized banking in India as over 44.82 crore beneficiaries have been banked so far with a balance of INR 160,839.87 Crores.

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But the main goal when it comes to financial inclusion is not just ensuring that every individual has a bank account. It is to ensure unconditional access to a wide array of financial services ranging from banking products and services like transactions, payments, savings, credit, etc to other ancillary services like insurance and equity products.

3.1.2 Leveraging Technology to increase Access to bank the unbanked

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India has the highest mobile data consumption rate in the world, with 12 gigabytes (GB) per user per month, and the nation is gaining up to 25 million new smartphone users per quarter. The number of active internet users is predicted to exceed 900 million by 2025. Data usage in India is predicted to more than quadruple to about 25 GB per person per month by 2025, owing to more inexpensive mobile broadband connections and shifting video viewing patterns. This growing adoption of the internet makes it a fertile ground for launching digital projects. According to a survey issued by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and consultancy company Kantar, India's rural internet user base is increasing more than three times faster than the urban user base. Despite the fact that the rural internet user population is on track to overtake the urban one, internet penetration in rural India remains lower than in metropolitan regions. Internet penetration is more than twice as high in cities as it is in rural regions.

Digitising Finance

Our technical infrastructure is largely concerned with:

  • Providing a distinct identity (through Aadhaar, eKYC, and eSign

  • Payments are made more quickly and at a lower cost (with UPI and AePs)

  • Information exchange and data security (through DigiLocker

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According to BLinC Insights, the whole size of the Indian financial services market in 2021 is anticipated to be $500 billion, with FinTech accounting for $31 billion. According to government data, digital transactions increased by about 90%, from 232,000 to over 430,000 in the three years from FY19 to FY21, mostly due to UPI. The value of digital payments in India would more than triple to $1 trillion by the fiscal year 2026, up from $300 billion in the fiscal year 2021. Despite constituting 70% of India's population, persons residing in rural areas are the most underserved in terms of access to fintech services. While 80% of the Indian population has a bank account, about 45% of those accounts are inactive owing to a variety of issues.

On the banking and financial services front, the introduction of PMJDY, the linking of Jan Dhan accounts, Aadhaar, and Mobile Phone - the JAM ecosystem, and the subsequent linkage to the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) plan has gradually but steadily weeded out physical currency from the system. Following demonetization in 2016, nearly 20 million zero-balance savings accounts were created through PMJDY.

Understanding how Kenya leveraged electronic payment innovation to increase access to financial services

The government of Kenya prioritized financial inclusion and the non-banking financial institutions were the torchbearers for this mission. M-Pesa is a mobile phone-based money transfer service, payments and micro-financing service that allows users to deposit, withdraw, transfer money, pay for goods and services, access credit and savings, all with a mobile device. Users may deposit money into an account saved on their mobile phones, transmit balances to other users, including suppliers of products and services, via PIN-secured SMS text messages, and redeem deposits for conventional money. Users are charged a nominal fee for utilising the service to transfer and withdraw money. M-Pesa being a branchless banking service; its customers can deposit and withdraw money from a network of agents that includes airtime resellers and retail outlets acting as banking agents.This is very useful to bring people who are not eligible to open bank accounts under the financial inclusion umbrella.

India already has a similar service in place in the form of the UPI system. According to 2021 reports, the UPI system of payments reinforced by the UPI bank apps helped in successfully materializing over 39 Billion financial transactions, which amounts to a business of around $940 Billion, which is again equivalent to around 31% of India’s GDP. This has boosted the banking usage of millions of residents in the country. A major difference between the two services is that MPesa did not require a bank account to be linked whereas the Indian UPI system works as a digital bank and hence requires the KYC details of all the users. Though the UPI system is far less riskier, it still does not serve the millions of people in the rural parts of the country who do not have access to the banking services yet. But the fact that UPI is for all practical purposes a free way to transfer funds has increased the user base.

The way forward for India in terms of Digitalization

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According to World Bank’s research, digitization can assist to increase financial inclusion even in areas where traditional banking services are waning. As a result, one of the important aspects that can aid in the last-mile delivery of banking and financial services in India is digitization. As per a RBI report on how India makes its payments, roughly 40% of all the payments are made through mobile payment mechanisms of UPI & IMPS. This shift in consumer preference for using mobile phones as a medium to transact must be tapped in further to increase the umbrella of population under financial inclusion. Setting up a banking branch in the remote and rural areas of India involves a lot of infrastructure bottlenecks. The same can be overcome by unleashing the power of mobile money like Kenya, not only to motivate people to start transacting digitally but also encouraging them to avoid cash transactions and increasing the use of digital cash for running every day errand like shopping for groceries to availing loans based on the account transactions.

As per a world bank database roughly 98% of the adult population in India has a national identity card, which fintechs have been using innovatively to employ emerging technology, such as biometric verification, including fingerprints and iris scans.

One of the major difficulties that the government has attempted to solve through programs such as the Prime Minister's Digital India Initiative and the Bharat Net Project is a lack of infrastructure. Across a similar spirit, the RBI recently launched the Payment Investment Development Fund (PIDF), which has an initial budget of Rs 345 crores and aims to add 30 lakh digital payment touchpoints in tier-3 to tier-6 areas and north-eastern states. These platforms should be offered in all regional languages in order to develop trust and popularise the use of Unified Payments Interface (UPI), BHIM, and other digital payment systems. Digital payment systems' dispute resolution mechanisms should also be localized, with a preference for resolving problems in regional languages. To promote the usage of digital platforms, some type of direct incentive systems (not reward points) such as rationing assistance, business advice, and education/health advantages might be investigated.

The rural people's apprehension about using digital platforms should be addressed through targeted outreach programmes emphasising the security and convenience features of digital platforms, with assistance from scheduled commercial banks, regional rural banks, payment banks, business correspondents (Bank Mitra), or small finance banks - the financial institutions established across India over a long period of time that the rural people trust.

3.2 Lack of active users

Compared to all the other developing nations, India has the highest imbalance between the people who have a bank account and those who use their account on a regular basis. This was one of the consequential flaws observed in PMJDY. The developed nations however share an almost equal number of bank account holders and users.

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Less than 15% of the Working population receives wages or Government Transfers into its bank account. This further explains the low level of tax-payers in our country.

Lack of Awareness of Schemes can be another reason because Most of the financial reform schemes introduced by the government are not marketed well enough to reach the masses and the targeted audience.

To build on the PMJDY program's success in providing access, it is critical to address the issue of dormant/inoperative accounts by understanding the underlying factors such as a lack of sufficient/regular income, developing appropriate financial products and addressing a lack of awareness about them, procedural/operational challenges, and a lack of available acceptance infrastructure, among others. Recognizing that sustainable financial inclusion can only be achieved when access to financial service providers is accompanied by the provision of a suite of financial products such as insurance, pension, investment, and credit in addition to deposits, the NSFI, among other things, recommends that every willing and eligible customer be provided with the same. This aspect of financial inclusion requires more urgency. With the proliferation of a large number of BCs in the financial ecosystem with varying business models, and given the critical role they play in advancing financial inclusion by addressing the last mile disconnect, issues relating to the continued availability of BC agents, capacity building, certification requirements, and remuneration-related issues must be addressed proactively.

Currently, Indians do not have any incentives to actively use their banking channels. This is mostly due to the following factors:

  1. Lack of availability of credit

  2. Lack of financial literacy

  3. Unambitious government goal setting

3.2.1 Lack of availability of credit

Credit provides an opportunity to save money. Some people save money yet are unable to do business. As a result, they lend it to financial institutions. Credit makes possible the shifting of money to those people who can use it productively. The Indian economy, however, has an inefficient allocation of credit. Credit is available to a very select group of population and this is probably why the informal sectors of the Indian economy are still lagging and not coming under the oversight of regulation.

Less than 10% Indian have access to Credit from Financial Institutions

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Financial Services may be prohibitively expensive, one of the reasons people don’t demand credit access directly from financial institutions which often charge fees, minimum deposit requirements, and other upfront costs that create steep barriers to entry for people with limited liquidity. Credit access is an important indicator since it indirectly highlights the nation’s economic growth possible in the future. The average borrowing capacity from a financial institution in the mentioned 5 developing nations stands at 18.2% where India is positioned much below the average at 8.2%.

Understanding how Bangladesh - Rationalized the operation of Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) through determining appropriate service charges

The Microcredit Regulatory Authority (MRA) of Bangladesh upon starting its operation in 2012, resolved to tackle the issue of interest rates charged by Microfinance Institutions (MFIs). The MRA planned to establish a consistent rate of interest for the industry, which would safeguard consumers from high interest charges while also greatly contributing to the spread of financial inclusion. This goal, together with rising concern from MFI-sector beneficiaries and stakeholders over the industry's excessive service costs, prompted the MRA to develop an adequate policy to establish reasonable service charges for the sector.

In response, in April 2010, the MRA, the Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation – a wholesale government financing agency for the industry – and the Institution of Microfinance (InM) – a research institution concentrating on capacity building in the MFI sector – created a committee.

The committee was assigned to provide recommendations on service charges by collecting and analyzing data on MFIs.

The main findings of the study brought out the following:

  1. Almost 75% of MFIs charged around 25% - 28% interest.

  2. Very few charged above 30%, and those who did were actually enjoying a higher profit margin.

  3. Few MFIs were able to charge below 25%, and their cost was low due to increased operational efficiency.

Based on these findings the committee made the following recommendations:

  1. Interest rates for loans to clients should be set in the range of 25% - 30%

  2. Imposition of multiple charges should be stopped

  3. The falling balance approach should be used instead of flat rate interest computations.

  4. Before repayments are required, there should be a minimum initial grace period following loan distribution.

  5. The number of payments required to repay the full debt should be 46.

At present, all MFIs are following the MRA policy decisions introduced for the sector. Interest rates are set at 27% and calculated on a declining balance method. There is a mandatory grace period before repayment of loans is started. Multiple charges to clients have been eliminated entirely.

The way forward for India

There is no governing body for controlling the activities of the creditors in the informal lending sector. These leaders are free to charge any rate of interest, exploiting the sect of the population that is not eligible to get credit from banks, this means that a significant portion of the income goes in meeting these interest payments, reducing the money in the hands of the borrower, leading them to borrow more, forming a vicious cycle.

Microfinance is a fantastic option to increase financial inclusion by providing credit access to individuals who normally are not eligible for a vanilla bank loan. These include loans of small ticket sizes and are offered often with minimal paperwork. These loans are non collateralized i.e. they do not require a collateral to be provided in exchange for the loan. Microfinance loans have helped bring in millions of people into the banking umbrella. But the catch is that the high interest rates often dissuade people from approaching a Micro Finance Institution for a loan.

Table - 3, Information as on September 30, 2020 sourced from Q-MF (a quarterly report on microfinance sector published by Sa-Dhan, a self-regulatory organization for MFIs). Source: RBI

In India, The regulatory ceiling on interest rate is applicable only to NBFC-MFIs. According to RBI- Regulatory instructions and clarifications over the years have led to a complex set of rules governing the cost of funds. This creates an imbalance as fixing an interest rate ceiling for only NBFC-MFIs, are effectively acting as a regulatory benchmark for other lenders as well.The Lending rates of banks was also approximately this ceiling value, though the Cost of funds was comparatively lower. Even among NBFC-MFIs, increasing size of the operations leading to greater economies of scale has not resulted in any perceptible decline in their lending rates. Ultimately, it is the final borrower who gets deprived of the benefits from enhanced competition as well as economy of scale. Thus, there is a non-level playing field which results in customer protection getting compromised. Thus instead of mandating a fixed cap, RBI has raised the cap as the minimum of -

  • The cost of funds plus a margin cap of 10% for MFIs with loan portfolio of ₹100 crore or above and 12% for others

  • The average base rate of the five largest commercial banks by assets multiplied by 2.75.

Hence to break out of this vicious cycle, the best way is to lower the lending rates of wholesale banks to these NBFC-MFIs, thus reducing the lending rates of these entities to the ultimate borrower. Lower Borrowing rates and less stringent eligibility norms mean that more people will be willing to shift to the formal banking system and their dependence on unscrupulous loan sharks and moneylenders will fall steadily.

3.2.2 Lack of financial literacy

According to the National Centre for Financial Education, 27% of Indians are financially literate. While the centre itself has launched many programs targeted across different groups across the year to increase this percentage, there is still a long way to achieve any targeted number.

Based on the ‘Financial Literacy and Inclusion in India’ survey conducted by National Centre for Financial Inclusion in 2019 across India’s 75140 respondents/households including 11600 rural and 6800 urban respondents following statistics were drawn -

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There is a general lack of trust in the Financial Services system, especially in the rural parts of the country, where people don’t find it right to have bank accounts. It is not uncommon to find customers who are put off by the profiteering mindset of banks and other financial institutions. Being convinced into buying an insurance policy that isn’t in their best interests, constant cross-selling of various schemes, and creation of fake accounts has made the customs skeptical about investing and opening bank accounts.

Understanding how financial literacy can induce financial inclusion

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development defines Financial education as a combination of awareness, knowledge, skill, attitude and behaviour necessary to make sound financial decisions and ultimately achieve individual financial wellbeing.

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Status so Far

Programs like Financial Education Programmes for Adults, Financial Awareness and Consumer Training, Financial Education Training Programme, and Money Smart School Programme were conducted across 23 States and 4 Union Territories in the financial year 2020-21 to deepen the levels of financial literacy.

The National Strategy for Financial Education 2020-2025 was specifically launched by RBI in consultation with many other financial regulators to empower various sections of the population to develop adequate knowledge, skills, attitude, and behavior that are needed to manage their money better and plan for their future. The 5C’s approach of the scheme perfectly balances the required structure for the dissemination of financial education throughout the country.

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Understanding how Japan responded to the “Multiple-Debt” Issue through financial education and capping credit

In the late 1990s-2000s, the Japanese economy was facing a “multiple-debt” crisis and solving for the same was a key aspect to strengthen the financial inclusion in the economy. Many people went into bankruptcy, or worse, commited suicide because of the burden of multiple debts.

In order to solve this issue, the Japanese government established a task force and began discussions on a policy framework in 2007. The basic components of this policy framework included:

a) Strengthening consultation services in local governments and consumer centers;

b) Promoting “safety net” loans through credit unions, cooperatives, and nonprofit organizations; c) Enhancement of financial education for the prevention of multiple-debt problems in the K-12 education system; and

d) Tightening the control of illegal lenders by police and regulatory agencies.

The Central Council for Financial Services Information, for which the Bank of Japan provided secretariat functions, assumed a central role in creating and disseminating comprehensive and systematic financial education curriculum and accompanying financial education guidelines for everyone from K-12 students to the retired, and launched initiatives for training teachers and dispatching specialists. Because of these efforts, financial education and literacy programs have become common in junior high and high schools.

On the legal and regulatory front, Moneylending Control Act and Investment Act was revised and Interest Rate Restriction Act was enacted in order to introduce an interest cap of a maximum of 20% and total volume control in consumer loans (under which one could not borrow more than one-third of one’s total income). After 2010 when the revised Moneylending Control Act became effective, the multiple-debt issue seemed to have subsided.

Like Japan, India too can introduce financial education into its academic curriculum. Students ought to be educated about the basics, starting with the meaning of savings account and need to have them, to more complex and important matters like insurance and its benefits. They should not only be taught theoretically, but also practically, like conducting drives in school to open their first bank or digital money account.

The way forward for India in terms of Financial Literacy

Financial literacy is one of the biggest assets of any country as it is directly proportional to economic growth. The significance of financial literacy in India comes with respect to the development of rural areas, ease in borrowing, ease in doing business transactions, and growth of MSME.

The surge in the equity market over the past two years, taking the total number of new accounts to 28.6 million in November 2021 was highly driven by social media’s role in financial literacy. An increase in internet penetration and the popularity of mediums like stock market training academies, YouTube channels, and websites triggered a rise in the popularity of investment across India. Many people of all ages began to participate in equities markets and mutual funds. The retail investors’ share in cash market turnover increased from 39% in 2019 to 45% in 2020. Hence, this platform combined with technology access holds a lot of possibilities to further tap into the untapped population and bring financial awareness through literacy.

The government’s initiatives so far have created positive impacts and the continuing programs can further enhance the sector. All the financial regulators work both individually and collectively in the domain. Basic financial education, as well as sector-focused financial education programs, brochures, handbooks, seminars, quiz programs, or building websites like ‘Pension Sanchay’ keeping in mind the financial literacy from a retirement perspective, are a few of the initiatives by RBI, SEBI, IRDAI, and PFRDA. However, the feedback and review system still needs to be enhanced to create a feedback based approach and improvise on the measures to be taken considering the results and impacts.

The best way to increase financial literacy in the country is to include financial literacy in the school curriculum. The federal government of Canada, recognizing the importance of Financial literacy and to enable the citizens to plan, save and manage money and debt wisely, launched the National Strategy for Financial Literacy. The government has identified that it is important to teach financial literacy in schools. This provides everyone the opportunity to develop financial literacy, regardless of their families’ current income or wealth. To create a significant impact, financial literacy education must start early — preferably in elementary school.

A similar system has to be applied at the grassroot levels in India where the fundamentals of banking and finance have to be part of the curriculum. The Indian government should aim to ensure the professional development of the teachers and the syllabus should be tailored to provide value addition.

3.2.3 Unambitious government goal setting

Financial Inclusion (FI) Index is a comprehensive measure that incorporates details of banking, investments, insurance, postal as well as the pension sector in consultation with the government and regulators. It is a tool to measure the level of financial inclusion and financial services for use in internal policy making.It can be used directly as a composite measure in development indicators. Greater financial inclusion is critical for broader, inclusive, and long-term growth. As a result, a FI metric is required to adequately track the progress of governmental actions aimed at promoting FI.

Malaysia - Creating a Financial Inclusion Index to Monitor and Motivate Goal Setting

Bank Negara, the central bank of Malaysia, through the Maya declaration, has committed to the goal of deepening financial inclusion in its economy by setting out clear targets and monitoring its progress. It has developed an index of financial inclusion (IFI) to “measure the effectiveness of formal financial institutions in delivering financial products and services to all members of society” (Bank Negara Malaysia 2013).

The index comprises four dimensions:

(1) convenient accessibility

(2) take-up rate of financial products;

(3) responsible usage; and

(4) satisfaction level

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Financial inclusion brings more people into the economic zone, especially by developing the habit of saving and investing among a large segment of the rural population, thus aiding in the process of economic development. The unbanked population resort to borrowing from avaricious moneylenders and thus end up paying very high interest and are unable to escape the vicious cycle of poverty. By bringing these people within the perimeter of the formal banking sector and giving them access to formal credit services, financial inclusion protects their financial wealth and helps them move forward in life.

Malaysia's example demonstrates how national efforts can go beyond goal formulation to the development of detailed and country-specific data tools, such as the financial inclusion index, which can provide additional insight into the country's progress toward targets and comparative positioning with peers.

The way forward for India - Financial Inclusion Index

On August 17, 2021, the RBI established a multidimensional composite Financial Inclusion Index (FI-Index) to assess how many individuals in the country have access to banking and financial services and products, as well as the utilisation and quality of such facilities. It is based on 97 factors and responds to availability, convenience of access, utilisation, unequal distribution and insufficiency in services, financial literacy, and consumer protection. There are three major factors with specific weights - access (35%), utilisation (45%), and quality (20 %). The yearly FI-Index computed for 2021 was at 53.9 on a scale of 0 to 100, driven mostly by the access sub-index, which stood at 73.3, demonstrating significant progress thus far in developing financial infrastructure in the country via the collective efforts of all stakeholders. The FI-Index progress underlines the need for more targeted actions on the demand side of the inclusion endeavour. It is intended that the Reserve Bank's FI-Index, which will be issued every year in July, would not only reflect the success of actions previously taken and being taken by various stakeholders, but will also serve as a roadmap for future measures that need to be implemented. India has to set aggressive targets to increase the levels of FI and give more weight to the usage and quality parameters of the index. It needs to set the road map on sustainably increasing the FI score year on year to fasten the rate of economic development.

4. Conclusion

After the introduction of UPI system and the monstrous growth of Reliance Jio, the access to internet and mobile payments has increased. The technology boom needs to be intertwined with financial growth to make India a thriving and competitive global economy. The country is on the right track to achieving 100% access to banking facilities. The next piece of the puzzle lies in reducing the dormant accounts by enhancing user retention. This is easier said than done as India, at its heart is still a rural country with different cultures, demographics and poor literacy rate. Nevertheless the rise of fintechs has given the Indian economy the hope and vision to sail through the obstacles on its 5 trillion dollar dream.

Meet The Thought Leaders

Shatakshi Sharma has been a management consultant with BCG and is Co- Founder of Global Governance Initiative with national facilitation of award- Economic Times The Most Promising Women Leader Award, 2021 and Linkedin Top Voice, 2021.

Prior to graduate school at ISB, she was Strategic Advisor with the Government of India where she drove good governance initiatives. She was also felicitated with a National Young Achiever Award for Nation Building. She is a part time blogger on her famous series-MBA in 2 minutes.

Naman Shrivastava is the Co-Founder of Global Governance Initiative. He has previously worked as a Strategy Consultant in the Government of India and is working at the United Nations - Office of Internal Oversight Services. Naman is also a recipient of the prestigious Harry Ratliffe Memorial Prize - awarded by the Fletcher Alumni of Color Executive Board. He has been part of speaking engagements at International forums such as the World Economic Forum, UN South-South Cooperation etc. His experience has been at the intersection of Management Consulting, Political Consulting, and Social entrepreneurship.

Aashi Agarwal is a mentor at GGI and is currently working as a consultant at Kearney. She exhibits a keen interest in the social sector and has gained vivid experiences being a part of Teach for India, Katalyst, and BloodConnect Foundation. Aashi pursued her B.Tech from IIT Delhi and was conferred with the prestigious Director’s Gold Medal for her excellent all-rounder performance and leadership skills. Outside of work, you can find her writing poetry Slam, learning French, or exploring new places, food, lifestyle, and culture.

Meet The Authors (GGI Fellows)

Arjun Ravikumar is a Chartered Accountant and a GGI fellow, who currently works in the BFSI industry as a Credit Analyst. He is also a budding writer who is hoping to bring out his first creation soon. When he is not being a star at work, you can find him at the gym or surrounded by his books.

Chehak Joneja is a pre-final year undergraduate student pursuing her engineering from Bharati Vidyapeeth’s College of Engineering, New Delhi. She got introduced to the world of consulting through GGI and now plans to build a career in policy consulting. She also has a keen interest in the field of finance and wishes to pursue a master's in the same. Reading novels, books, scribbling, swimming, and playing chess are her favorite hobbies.

Sonali Shah is a Chartered Accountant currently employed as a Corporate Accounting Consultant at WIPRO COE. She has rich working experience in the areas of audit, taxation and financial advisory services.

She has a keen interest in corporate finance and believes in consistently diversifying her knowledge and experience for constant growth. She likes to spend her leisure time exercising, cooking, and enhancing her digital competency.

If you are interested in applying to GGI's Impact Fellowship, you can access our application link here.


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  2. World bank G20 financial inclusion indicators database

  3. Working paper on Financial Inclusion & Japanese Society - Japan NPO center - March 2016

  4. The Use of Financial Inclusion Data Country Case Study: Bangladesh - Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) - January 2014

  5. Financial inclusion targets & goals : Landscape & GPFI view - GPFI - October 2013

  6. Global standard setting bodies and financial inclusion - GPFI

  7. Financial inclusion in rural India - Grant Thornton - January 2020

  8. World’s Most Unbanked Countries-,60%25%20of%20their%20population%20unbanked.

  9. Consultative Document on Regulation of Microfinance-,only%20at%20a%20central%20location.

  10. Credit Access-

  11. PMJDY-

  12. Financial inclusion-

  13. Data Collection Resoruces for India -

  14. Role of Technology - , , ,

  15. NSFE and its 5C’s - ,

  16. Financial Literacy - ,

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