Banks must use technology to ensure financial inclusion: PM


New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called for better use of technology-driven models to ensure financial inclusion in the country and reach banking and social services to all sections of the society, even in remote villages.

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The directions came during a meeting he presided over to review the progress being made towards financial inclusion. The top brass of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), including Governor D. Subbarao, attended, an official statement said Friday.

The prime minister said every effort must be made to ensure that the schemes under the national rural jobs programme, pension and other social security measures reach even those in remote villages faster, more efficiently and with lesser intermediation cost.

The prime minister was briefed on the efforts being made to reach banking services by using information and communication technology to 73,000 rural habitations in the country having population of over 2,000 by March 2012.

“Only then will the rural hinterland become fully connected with the financial sector in India,” said the prime minister, who was himself the governor of the central bank before he became India’s finance minister in 1991.

India presently has some 32,000 rural bank branches. In the federal budget tabled in February the government had committed to reach financial services to all villages that have a population of more than 2,000 people.

Reserve Bank deputy governors Usha Thorat and K.C. Chakrabarty, as also chairmen of the State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank, O.P. Bhatt and K.R. Kamath, were among those who attended the meeting.