Imagine a tiny automated teller machine (ATM) that could be carried anywhere in your bag. Unusual it may sound, but Gujarat will soon have such small ATMs.
In a novel initiative to make rural banking hassle-free, public-sector bank Dena Bank is gearing up to roll out these little ATMs in a couple of rural areas on experimental basis.
Banks in Gujarat have stepped up their efforts to make inroads into rural parts of the state. Of late, both public and private sector banks have launched a drive for 100 per cent financial inclusion by offering no-frills bank accounts to all the rural households. Taking it a step further, Dena Bank has decided to offer ATM-like transaction facility to rural populace.
With limited bank branches in rural areas, in many cases villagers are forced to travel long distances of 25-30 km to withdraw money.
"These tiny ATMs would come as a major relief to banking customers in rural markets. The preliminary survey has already been done and the pilot project will kick-start in next couple of weeks," said an official of Dena Bank, which is implementing the pilot project in Gujarat.
The bank has already identified 140 villages in four talukas for pilot project, which include Bhachau, Nakhatrana of Kutch district and Kankrej and Bhabhar of Banaskantha.
A Mumbai-based IT solution provider, Little World, has also been roped in for technology and gadgets for such ATMs.
Elaborating more on the project, sources revealed that initially a cluster of four to five villages in two to three km radius will be formed in the identified talukas.
Also, key persons will be appointed, who will be given the possession of these small ATMs. The person could be either a member of village Panchayat or a chairman of co-operative society of the village. The appointed person will be responsible for handing over or accepting the cash from account holder.
The tiny ATM will have digital thumb impression of account holder. The customers will also be issued smart card, which stores the customers' address, photograph and account details. At the time of transaction, the customer is required to give thumb impression and swipe the card.
"After swiping the card the appointed person physically hands over the money to the account holder. The person appointed for carrying out banking operations will also be given a credit limit for transactions," sources said.
Based on the success of the pilot project, other private and public sector banks may go for similar venture, sources hoped. In Andhra Pradesh, State Bank of India has successfully implemented such a project.
Dhoot also said that the company had completed all the technical formalities for the rollout. However, the company has neither engaged any handset manufacturer nor plans to manufacture handsets. Subscribers have been given the freedom to opt for handsets from the market.
Besides engaging Ravi Sharma as chief executive officer of Datacom Solutions, the company has appointed around 200 administrative staff for the rollout.
Alcatel-Lucent has recently rejigged India and South Asian operations by elevating Sharma as advisor to Frederic Rose, the president of Alcatel-Lucent's Europe, Africa and Asia business. The company had appointed Vivek Mohan in his place.