Hyderabad: S Chandrashekar is an owner of a stationery shop in Kubeer mandal of Nirmal district. That his phone rings almost incessantly tells that he is popular in at least five villages surrounding Kubeer.
Chandrashekar is a link between banks and their customers- he is a business correspondent. Bank account holders who cannot go the branch, go to his store and withdraw their money. He has a handheld device that gives the account details. In many cases, the callers request him to drop money at their doorstep, which he obliges.
Role of Chandrashekar and many others like him has become a crucial during the Covid-19 pandemic. These business correspondents are doing key transactions that banks do and in the process are also aiding in maintaining social distance- they cut the need for people to visit bank branches.
Banks appoint business correspondents to extend their services in underserved areas. Local business owners are selected as business correspondents so that they can divert pcash in hand for withdrawals by bank customers. The banks reimburse these amounts and the agencies that hire them pay a commission.
The TS Government is providing Rs 1,500 relief to every family that it below the poverty line. Money has been credited to about 74 lakh accounts (about Rs 1,112 crore). Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao on Sunday had announced that similar relief of Rs 1,500 will also be extended in May.
The State is also extending Rs 500 to single migrants and Rs 1,500 per family. The State also has 40 lakh Aasara pensioners. Not all of them withdraw cash from the bank branches or the ATMs and some of them also depend on the business correspondents.
This apart, the Central Government, through the Pradhan Mantri, Garib Kalyan Yojana, about Rs 9,930 crore has been disbursed to 19.86 crore women Jan Dhan account holders across the country, according to Government data.
“Now, people are coming to withdraw the amount that is being credited into the accounts. Ofcourse, the withdrawals are need-based,” said Chandrashekar.
“I will travel because some people cannot come to me. People know me and they call me asking for cash delivery,” he said. For him, the working hours stretch till late evenings.
Biswajeet Sinha, Senior Divisional Head (South), Fino Payments Bank, one of the players offering doorstep delivery of cash and making cash available in rural areas through its merchants, has about 9,000 plus Fino Payments Bank points in Telangana. These include branches, kirana, medical shops, business correspondent agents and BPCL outlets. Now, the focus is on ramping up its presence in TS and other States as well.
Only 60 per cent of them are operational now. These Fino Payment Bank points did close to 5 lakh transactions valued at over Rs 110 crore since the start of lockdown till April 14. Over 90 per cent of the withdrawals are through Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AePS). The other mode is through Rupay debit cards.
“Neighbourhood banking points have become critical as they are present close-by and even provide door step services when required. These services are proving to be a boon to customers, especially elders and pensioners who cannot go out in the current situation. Further, with Telangana CM announced funds of Rs 1500 reaching the beneficiary accounts since April 14, we expect the transaction value to double in the next few days as people withdraw cash,” Sinha said.
“Before lockdown we used to do around 8 to 9 lakh transactions a month valued at over Rs 250 crores. This also included social security pensions and MGNRES, domestic remittance and other transactions. Domestic remittances contributed over 30 per cent of this business. Migrants, maids, drivers and small business owners are the major remitters of money from urban to rural areas. However, with livelihoods hit and many migrants leaving cities, remittances have taken a hit at this point of time,” said Inayathullah, Zonal Head (Telangana).
Fino Payments Bank waived deposit charges till April 30, he said.
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