The entire world today is doomed with the COVID-19 Lockdown. These unfortunate times have led to damages across geographies. India started facing the adversities of the same in around mid-week of March when everything started to shut down gradually. By the end week of March, India was on complete lockdown with only essential services being operational.
Amidst the entire lockdown situation, the rural population of India who largely gets their banking and financial services operated through Banking Mitras is facing issues. On the contrary, the urban population is still pretty independent when it comes to withdrawing cash or using a card as a primary means of transaction.
With micro-retailers as mini banking points, the majority of this population depends on their neighborhood retailers for basic banking services like money transfer and cash withdrawal. Retailers have become an agent that they can approach anytime with ease as most of them are familiar with their daily dukaandars.
With the lockdown situation, a lot of retail stores that fall under non-essential services were asked to put their shutters down as a step towards social distancing. However, a lot of Kirana store owners of Pay1 today, fortunately, fall under the essential services category and are still operational and able to help out their customers not just with grocery and food items but also with their daily banking and monetary needs like emergency money transfer and withdrawal of cash.
Business correspondents and banking Mitras play a crucial role in keeping the wheel spinning in tier 2 and tier 3 cities of India when it comes to financial inclusion as banking services here are scarce and limited as compared to the metropolitan cities.
But with restrictions on movement, it’s now become difficult for them as well to have access to their customers on a daily or weekly basis, as they would before.
Last week, the Finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman requested state authorities to ensure that movement restrictions for banking Mitras be withdrawn as they are the main mediators between banks and the customers.
According to the Business Correspondent Federation of India (BCFI), 70 % of the nation’s population still resides in rural India. The national lockdown hence is causing great distress in helping these basic banking services be reached to the people residing in remote areas. The rural ATM penetration also happens to be low as compared to metropolitan and many other cities in India.
Recently, the government also came up with various ways to ensure that the poverty-stricken people be protected against the lack of money for items of daily needs. Hence, the government has decided to deposit a certain amount in the banks of people under various schemes on a monthly basis, to lift off the financial burden and worry.
Every person is given certain dates on which they can go and withdraw the cash deposited by the government in their accounts to ensure social distancing and keeping the crowd at bay.
Pay1 retailers have been instrumental in providing these services to the customers and helping them out in this time of need. With the mini ATM and AePS services, Pay1 retailers are helping customers to withdraw the amount safely negating the need of traveling miles in order to have access to banks abiding by the rules of social distancing and restriction movement.
The disruption in Fintech has largely helped the underserved sectors of the society in these trying times and we are glad that the Pay1 retailers are also a source of providing both essential services and products to their customers as the entire nation fights the pandemic together.