HDFC Bank’s efforts in furthering financial inclusion through a partnership with the Government of India’s Common Service Centres (CSC) have been adjudged ‘Most Innovative Best Practice’ for financial inclusion at the CII Digital Transformation Award 2021.
HDFC Bank focuses on financial inclusion by offering an entire bouquet of its world-class products through CSC’s network of VLE centres
- 1.1 lakh VLE (Village Level Entrepreneurs) centres run by CSC e-Governance
- Of these, over one lakh VLE centres are in rural and semi-urban locations
- These locations cover close to 50,000 villages across India
- These villages are spread across 685 districts and 5,176 sub-districts
- Additionally, the bank has 5,686 branches across 2,929 cities, towns. 50 per cent of these branches are located at rural and semi-urban locations.
Partnering with CSC entailed ‘creating a parallel bank’ for over one lakh village-level entrepreneurs, manning the VLE centre, who’d offer all products and services of the bank, in remote rural India.
Building the digital platform
- Since VLEs are not employees of the bank, allowing them access to the existing bank system was not possible.
- To ensure that end-to-end services were provided to the customers at the remotely located VLE centre itself, without the need to visit the branch, a new digital platform that interacts with the bank’s network was built in 2018.
Building digital journeys for all bank products and services
- Digital journeys adhering to all mandated norms were built.
- It was also necessary that, unlike internet banking wherein customers have access to non-assisted journeys, the journeys created for VLEs are assisted.
Training and education of 1.1 lakh VLEs based in rural areas
- On-boarding and training the VLEs and doing so remotely with the constraints of the level of education, technical know-how and language barriers across the country.
- Standardisation of customer experience across the VLE centres.
Some of the remotest locations where banking services were made possible through this innovation are –
- Inaccessible areas of north-eastern states
- Deep interiors of Chhattisgarh, impacted by extremism
- Underserved districts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
“We are thrilled to receive this award,” said Smita Bhagat, Group Head – Government and Institutional Business, BC Banking (CSC partnership), and Start-ups, HDFC Bank. “I feel roti (bread), kapda (cloth), makaan (house) and access to banking and finance are basic necessities today. This initiative is changing lives for real and we are grateful we could bring about transformation at such a large scale. This would not have been possible without CSC e-Governance. This is just a beginning and we have many more miles to walk,” Bhagat added.
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