16 April 2014
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RBI bids to boost Indian m-banking take-up

13 February 2014  |  3071 views  |  2 Taj Mahal

The Reserve Bank of India has set out its plans to kickstart the country's so far sluggish take-up of mobile banking services.

India has around 870 million mobile subscribers and 450 million bank account holders yet just 22 million active m-banking customers, according to the RBI's technical committee on the issue.

The RBI recently highlighted the absence of collaboration and revenue sharing models between banks and telcos as a key factor in the slow uptake of mobile banking applications by the populace.

In its report, now open to public comments, the bank's committee emphasises the need for a standardised and simplified procedure for registration and authentication of customers for mobile services and a cohesive awareness programme.

The committee also stresses the need for the adoption of a common application platform across all banks, delivered to customers independent of the handset being used.

In a vast country with a huge rural population, the RBI says Indians must not be forced to visit branches to register for mobile services. Instead, they should be able to use other channels such as ATMs, and agent networks through biometric authentication.

To overcome the challenges faced by each bank in tying up with a large number of mobile network operators, there needs to be a common USSD gateway for mobile banking, says the committee.

The RBI says the banks and MNOs can now carry out pilots using white-label multi-bank STK applications which can be distributed using an application on the SIM that allows SMS encryption.

Meanwhile, in a speech this week RBI governor Raghuram Rajan called on the banking and ICT industries to work together to "build a technology-enabled financial sector that can reach every nook and cranny of India".

Rajan welcomed the moves being made on mobile payments and also highlighted another innovation, recently approved by the bank, that aims to boost financial inclusion.

The service will let bank account holders send funds to non-account holders through ATMs, with the sender texting a code to the recipient which is entered at the cash machine to make the withdrawal.

Comments: (2)

Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 14 February, 2014, 18:01

I'm happy to see RBI at last admitting to onboarding friction being a key hurdle to widespread adoption of mobile banking in India. On another note, I've anecdotally never seen anyone who wanted a bank account to be without one in India. Now, with the availability of concrete figures - 450M bank accounts for 193M households (Source: Wikipedia) - the notions of unbanked / financial inclusion do appear to be on shaky grounds.

Sudhish Nair - Oracle Financial Services - Mumbai | 18 February, 2014, 07:39

Better late then never. It is still a step in the right direction when the mantra is all about financial inclusion but still the execution of the ambitious step will largely depend on how the Mobile Service Providers will team up with bank to provide the services.The emergence of concept of White Label Atm's is still to take off in India and the combination of these two would serve the right approach for financial inclusion.we can hope this new initiative does not go in the direction of "Banking consolidation" which we have been saying for a long time.

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