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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

Govt looks to fast-track mobile banking rollout

Mahua Venkatesh, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 31, 2014
First Published: 22:47 IST(31/3/2014) | Last Updated: 23:19 IST(31/3/2014)

The government has asked banks and telecom service companies to sort out by April 15 their differences over mobile banking that are holding up the roll-out of key services that could dramatically ease the way  for millions of people to conduct financial transactions.

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At the heart of the tussle are irritants over who will bear the responsibility for failed transactions in a world where bank computers talk to telecom networks.

The government has asked banks and telecom companies to come up with a framework for early implementation by April 15. The framework is a vital bet for the government in its quest to boost rural banking and financial inclusion, which are stuck on technicalities.

“There are a few issues... in case a transaction fails — which could be for several reasons including network failure, Internet problems or even from the lenders’ side — there needs to be accountability, and it is important to fix that,” an official  source familiar with the development said.

Financial services secretary Rajiv Takru recently held a meeting with banks, mobile operators and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to discuss the issue of mobile banking. The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) will also be involved.

“A meeting has been held and several issues have been highlighted. We have asked them to come up with something concrete by April 15,” Takru, who would soon be taking charge as revenue secretary, told HT.

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He said the reach of mobile banking needs to be expanded. 

Finance minister P Chidamba­ram too had discussed the issue at a recent meeting with public sector chiefs.

Currently, mobile banking is present in India to a limited extent. The Reserve Bank of India recently expressed concern and disappointment over the tardy implementation of mobile banking in the country, and noted that it has not picked up the way it was expected.

“Mobile banking is being looked upon as one of the main pillars of financial inclusion and it should not remain confined to just a few users, it should be within the reach of all mobile users and it would be especially useful for immigrant labourers and workers,” said the chairman and managing director of a mid-sized public sector bank.


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