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India’s record of rapid economic development through positive government policies over the last several decades is enviable, reducing poverty and promoting social cohesion. But even after 60 plus years of independence, a large segment of the population still lacks access to everyday banking and finance capabilities. Not surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of this underserved population – about 60% – live in rural India. Reaching them with modern banking networks has recently gained momentum through an effective partnership of government, the banking industry, and the country’s leading provider of satellite broadband connectivity—Hughes India.
The mission to ensure that almost every Indian across 600,000 villages gains access to banking services is monumental, but the partners have embarked on it with eyes wide open and are employing some of the most advanced banking technologies to be found anywhere.
The Ultimate Dream: Universal Financial Access
Based on the principle of financial inclusion for all citizens, the latest program has been labelled the “Prime Minister’s Jandhan Yojna” (PMJDY) campaign to provide a bank account to every citizen. To use bank accounts to their greatest advantage, however, rural residents need to be able to access local banking facilities—for which the most cost-effective option is to develop ATM infrastructures and micro/small branches throughout rural regions. And it followed that satellite networks were the obvious choice for linking these channels to India’s core banking network.
To date, Hughes India has connected the highest number of offsite ATMs and bank branches employing satellite terminals (VSATs) of any such initiative in the world—more than 40,000 ATMs and 33,000 branches. In addition to serving nearly all of the private and public sector banks, Hughes India is also monitoring these networks around the clock, providing ongoing maintenance and field engineering support.
With the ATM and micro branch network expanding, more and more people are gaining access to cash and banking facilities located closer to their homes and work places. Ultimately, the Indian government wants to see every one of its citizens be within 15 minutes walking distance to a bank or an ATM. This seemingly small change will undoubtedly have a dramatic impact on India’s growing economy and help propel the country and its people forward.