They can use Kisan Credit Cards to avail subsidies offered by the government on seed, fertilizer in addition to availing banking services such as credit, deposits and other financial transactions

Farmers in Andhra Pradesh will soon be offered a bouquet of services through their Kisan Credit Cards (KCCs) on the lines of the regular credit/debit cards.

They can use their cards to avail subsidies offered by the government on seed, fertilizer and other inputs in addition to availing banking services such as credit, deposits and other financial transactions.

The AP State Cooperative Bank (APCOB) has recently launched integrated core banking services network, the first by a State-run bank in the country.

The APCOB with over four million customers, predominantly farmers, has set up an online network connecting its data centre in the city with all the 616 branches of the District Cooperative Central Banks (DCCBs) in 22 districts. This connectivity will help the bank monitor transactions through a real time management information system, according to K. Srinivasan of Executive Vice-president of Polaris Financial Technologies which implemented the project.

The project, he said, was a landmark achievement in the cooperative system in the country and “each DCCB can now function as a full-fledged bank in itself’’. The IT backbone will seek to improve operational efficiency, cut down costs and productivity and profit.

“Core banking services are hosted on the cloud, a sort of limited public cloud, without compromising on security aspects. This will function as a multi-entity, multi-functional system where several functions can be brought under one roof,” Mr. Srinivasan said. This will, in turn, help DCCBs compete with commercial banks by launching their own products in retail banking services and attract customers from other segments.

Mr. Srinivasan said Polaris’ focus on the project was more on the operational niceties, rather than the implementation costs. “Given the success with which it has been set up, we are planning to replicate the model in the emerging economies,” he said.

APCOB Managing Director V. Giridhar said the bank had initiated work on designing new products taking advantage of the new technology platform that is set to bring its close to five million customers. Following integration of the DCCBs with the central data centre, the bank now focused on linking all the 2,748 Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies. Accordingly, a mechanism is being evolved to set up POS terminals and min ATMs in the remote areas enabling farmers to carry out their transactions from their respective locations. “Once it becomes operational, farmer can get adequate and timely at the time of his convenience.

He can use the credit card to meet his requirement at that point of time rather than being forced to utilize all his entitlement at a go,” he said.