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‘One Rupee Bank' set to become a boon for them

Swathi.V

— PHOTO: P.V. SIVAKUMAR

A slumdweller with the SBI One Rupee Bank account scheme identity card at Nimboliadda in Hyderabad on Tuesday.

HYDERABAD: Karri Jaggiamma now has a reason to be prudent. After 56 years without saving a penny, this petty vendor from Nimboliadda, Kacheguda, has begun banking with State Bank of India (SBI), thanks to the bank's pilot initiative for urban financial inclusion.

She opened an account with a one-rupee token deposit through one of SBI's 20 ‘One Rupee Bank' kiosks, the country's first, which was inaugurated here on Tuesday. The kiosk, or Customer Service Point (CSP), will be her point of transaction with the bank's Esamia Bazar branch.

The no-frills kiosks approach the urban low income clusters with simplified banking procedures. Further more, they financially empower the underprivileged women by improving their access to the bank: 22 per cent of the 7,000 ‘one-rupee' depositors in the city are women.

“We never had savings…, as all banks are located far away. Neither my husband, an automobile mechanic, nor I had the leisure to visit a bank and wait in queue to deposit or withdraw money,” says K. Lakshmi, a depositor, who earns a living by ironing clothes.

Neither did she have, at any single instance, the sum needed for an initial deposit.

Similar is the case of L. Manemma, a domestic help. Besides being able to open savings, fixed, term or recurring deposit accounts, these depositors can transfer money or avail themselves of loans after six months of loyalty.

Inaugurating the CSPs in the twin cities, Andhra Pradesh Revenue Minister D. Prasada Rao hoped that the initiative would prove an effective alternative to moneylenders. SBI Deputy Managing Director Diwakar Gupta said the service points would serve customers like any full-fledged branch.

The maximum balance is Rs.50,000, with a cap of Rs.10, 000 on single-day transactions, and Rs. 1 lakh in a whole year. Interest rates are the usual, and the account could be held with no balance at all.

Paperwork is kept to the minimum through use of biometrics.

Thumb impression of the depositor will be the key to any transaction, ruling out third party involvement. Women can operate their accounts with no interference from male members of the family.

“The system is accommodative. In case the depositor fails to provide proof of identity, our executives will visit his or her residence to verify the credentials,” said S. Ramesh, managing director of ‘Geosansar,' brand name of SBI's business correspondent agency, ‘Mainstream Solutions and Education,' to which the kiosks have been outsourced.

The bank aims to reach a target of one lakh accounts through 150 CSPs in major cities and industrial towns by the end of the fiscal. The target cities include Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, Bangalore, and Tirupur, Mr. Ramesh said.

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