Under financial inclusion scheme, bankers descend on remote areas of district to open accounts on the spot
On Thursday morning, C. Raja, president of Attappatti panchayat, located about 40 km from the city, was witness to something he had never seen before.
The entire staff of a major public sector bank's branch had come down to his village, and it was not to make enquiries about their needs. They had come with one purpose — to open bank accounts for all the villagers and ensure that everybody had access to the banking system.
Canara Bank's Thumbaipatti branch staff, along with a few personnel deputed from other branches, descended on the village Kottampatti Block, one of the most backward ones in the district.
So much importance has been attached to this initiative under financial inclusion project that the bank staff even brought their own digital cameras, besides biometric fingerprint scanners. Branch Manager N. Gunasekaran said that they were planning to cover the entire population of the village, estimated to be around 2,400, within two or three days.
The move to expand identity documents to include Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) job cards proved to be a major draw as many turned up with it. The locals participated enthusiastically in this drive with the Makkal Nala Paniyalargal and Village Clerks roped in to spread the word, said Lead District Manager KN. Subramanian.
Deputy General Manager B.R. Balasunder and Assistant General Manager S. Vijayakumar monitored the proceedings and also interacted with the villagers. They told the villagers that they would get Smart Cards within a month of opening the bank accounts.
Using the Smart Cards, villagers could access banking facilities such as withdrawing or depositing cash in the accounts at their locality itself through a Business Correspondent (BC). Armed with a hand-held voice-enabled ‘Mini ATM,' the BCs can go down to the villagers' homes, collect or disburse money and issue receipts from the device.
This campaign had the potential to revolutionise rural areas.
Since it was being conducted across the nation, there was a potential to bring in crores of people into the formal financial system.
Canara Bank had planned to achieve 100 per cent financial inclusion in 27 villages of the district.
Of these, six villages in Alanganallur, Chellampatti and T. Kallupatti blocks had been covered with 12,309 accounts opened during a campaign held between January 8 and 10.
The bank on Thursday launched the second phase of this drive in nine villages of which Attappatti was one. Officials said that these nine villages alone accounted for 11,543 households. All these nine villages were likely to be covered in a couple of days.