Leading private sector lender ICICI Group today dedicated 100 ‘ICICI Digital Villages’ to the nation at an event in New Delhi marking the bank’s efforts to partner the nation’s progress by empowering rural India. Arun Jaitley, Union Minister of Finance, Defence & Corporate Affairs inaugurated the event, ‘ICICI Rural Summit – ‘Sashakt Gaon, Samriddh Bharat’.
Inaugurating the Digital Villages at the ICICI Rural Summit., Jaitley said, “ The ICICI initiative should be followed by other banks in rural areas.”
ICICI Bank MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar said, “We have transformed 100 villages across the country in 100 days. We intend to expand the number of such villages by another 500 by December 2017.”
“We have created a less cash ecosystem at these villages, provided vocational training to over 11,300 villagers, including more than 7500 women and offered them credit linkages. We have done all of these in the past 100 days,” she added.
The programme involves end to end digitisation of transactions and other commercial activities, providing vocational training to villagers, extending credit facility and helping the villagers to access markets and earn a sustainable livelihood.
These villages are spread across the length and breadth of the country, the villagers here can use digital channels for banking and payments transactions. They can also open bank accounts using Aadhar-based e-KYC (electronic Know Your Customer), make cashless payments at retail stores using Point-of-Sale (POS) machines and use an SMS based mobile solution. Villagers can also deposit and withdraw cash at their doorstep. The digitisation at the village dairy co-operative units enables the societies to pay the members digitally and directly into their bank accounts.
Additionally, ICICI Bank in association with ICICI Foundation for Inclusive Growth (ICICI Foundation), the CSR arm of the ICICI Group, is imparting free vocational training to the villagers with a special focus on training women. As of now, over 11,300 villagers, including more than 7500 women, have been trained in the last 100 days to help them earn a sustainable livelihood. The bank is also extending credit facilities to credit-worthy trained villagers in a bid to boost self-employment opportunities in the villages. The programme has positively impacted the lives of nearly 2.5 lakh people here.
The ICICI Chief said that the move of transforming over 100 villages into digital villages is inspired by the Prime Minister’s vision to scale up the digital village programme. In January 2015, the Prime Minister had dedicated the first ‘ICICI Digital Village’ at Akodara in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat, to the nation at an event commemorating 60 years of the ICICI Group.
The 100 villages which have been transformed into ‘ICICI Digital Villages’ are located across 17 states in India. These include 16 in Gujarat, 14 each in Maharashtra & Madhya Pradesh, 12 each in Tamil Nadu & Karnataka and 11 in Rajasthan among others.
The ‘ICICI Digital Villages’ initiative have three dimensions. The first dimension is to enhance access to seamless and digital banking. The Bank has also equipped Business Correspondents (BC) at these villages with micro-ATMs with GPRS facility. Over 260 POS and micro-ATMs have been installed across these villages. Cashless payment solutions are being provided the village milk cooperative societies and its members for sale of milk. The second dimension of the initiative is to impart livelihood training to the villagers. The third dimension of the initiative is to provide credit linkages to enhance livelihood opportunities.