The Reserve Bank is looking to use mobile phones as a medium for taking banking facilities to the remote and far flung areas.

“Given the penetration levels of mobile telephony in India, this could become an important medium for achieving financial inclusion in the country,” RBI said in its annual monetary policy released today.

However, the RBI said, this calls for focused effort by the banks to partner with mobile service providers.

“Co-operation rather than competition between these two important stakeholders is the critical need of the hour,” the Central bank added.

The RBI said it is examining recommendations of inter-ministerial group, set by the Centre, for achieving financial inclusion through mobile phones.

“Recently, an inter-ministerial group constituted by the Government of India, has made important recommendations for financial inclusion through a bank-led model using the infrastructure already set up by mobile service providers. The Reserve Bank is examining the recommendations of the Group,” RBI said in its monetary policy statement for 2010-11.

The Group, chaired by the secretary, Department of IT, envisaged mobile linked no-frills accounts by banks. The basic transactions permissible over these accounts will include cash deposit, cash withdrawal, balance enquiry and transfer of money.

According to the recommendations, such services will also enable transfer of funds of various government schemes like NREGS.

The Reserve Bank has already allowed mobile banking services in the country.

Separately in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, Minister of state for Finance Namo Narain Meena said 32 banks have been given approval to provide mobile banking facility in the country and 21 of them have started providing these services.

Banks are now permitted to offer this service to their customers subject to a daily cap of Rs 50,000 per customer for both funds transfer and transactions involving purchase of goods and services, he said.

In the policy, RBI said, “Currently, this channel is used to settle on an average 1.9 lakh transactions of average value 12 crore in a month.”

The potential of mobile telephony could be gauged from the fact that there are around 55 crore mobile subscriber base in the country.

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