New service quality parameters for telecos soon TRAI chairman

Merely opening bank accounts will not help achieve financial inclusion, said Dr Rahul Khullar.
New service quality parameters for telecos soon TRAI chairman

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is likely to announce new parameters for quality of service for telecom operators in a month’s time to tackle call dropping and other problems being faced by customers, its chairman, Dr Rahul Khullar said at an ASSOCHAM event held in New Delhi.

“The consultation process on network neutrality is still on, till that consultation is complete I will not make any statements,” said Dr Khullar while inaugurating the 2nd National Summit on ‘IT & Mobile Banking: Digital Transformation of Indian Banking; Enabling Financial Inclusion,’ organised by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

He also said that digital transformation of Indian banking will remain a pipe dream unless measures suggested in a recent report by the TRAI on broadband were taken to completely overhaul the structure put in place by the government.

The TRAI chief also said that financial inclusion can be deeply achieved by harnessing new technology which does not cater exclusively to those who are already banked or those living in urban areas.

“Do not delude yourself into believing that merely because technology exists it will be suddenly harnessed for everybody’s good, the way it has worked so far at least, it has been harnessed for the good of a very few as its only those having devices and are electronically savvy who are in good shape,” said Dr Khullar.

He further said that it is the sheer cost of a brick and mortar institution, lack of customers together with poor deposits and low withdrawals which has prevented banks from going out to rural areas and reaching out to everybody.

Dr Khullar also said that banks need to develop new software for the unbanked group. “Banks need to develop software which is simple to use on a standard phone which can enable rudimentary transactions for the person at the end of the telephone and the banks need to get that done by developing such a software for this larger group to build trust in the system and grow.”

The TRAI chairman stressed upon the need to take a firm decision to do something about those who are financially excluded.

“Mere talking about and merely opening accounts will not get the job done, if millions of accounts will lie dormant then there will be no net outcome and we will be back to from where we had started,” said Dr Khullar.

“Government needs to become a serious partner and ask questions beyond how many bank accounts have been opened as unless that this will not fly. You have got to be able to have gravitas and seriousness that India must achieve this goal in next five years,” he said.

“The government both Central and state governments must get involved in pushing the envelope so that accounts do not remain dormant,” added Dr Khullar.

“If we are actually serious about financial inclusion we have to snap out of this business for looking at financial inclusion from a narrow lens of electronic banking, mobile wallets and others,” further said the TRAI chairman.

Dr Khullar also said that much of the financial inclusion has been held up by the bank-led model Vs teleco-led model.

“Commercial banks should realise that there is no point protecting this turf anymore and hand over at least some small segment of the cash transaction business over to the telecos and strike the best possible deal with telecos to make some money,” said the TRAI chairman.

He also said that both regulators i.e. the TRAI and RBI have to come to a closer agreement and in order to get this happen they have to move beyond locked-in positions – one solution could be payment banks that the Nachiket Mor Committee had recommended.


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