Dabbawalas will now start delivering a lot more than a hot lunch to customers — they will soon start vending banking services.
Globally recognised for their skills in logistics and the accuracy of their delivery systems, Mumbai’s dabbawalas have added an additional feather to their trademark ‘Gandhi caps’. The state-owned Corporation Bank has picked them as its brand ambassadors. Dabbawalas will now carry Corporation Bank’s account opening forms to the over one lakh office goers they service daily.
Behind the move lies a bit of history, and a lot of anguish. Dabbawalas may be one of the city’s most familiar sights, but when it came to opening bank accounts, they had an identity problem.
Since all 5,000 dabbawalas hail from villages around Pune, they do not have any address proof, ration cards or any kind of identity proof to establish their domicile in the city.
Corporation Bank came up with a solution. They offered to recognise the identity cards issued by the Dabbawala Association to open accounts for them. “You cannot have better KYC (know your customer) norms than dabbawalas,” said Corporation Bank Chairman B. Sambamurthy. Three to four generations of dabbawalas have been serving clients since 1890.
Now they will put their rapport with clients to good use by taking account-opening forms to them and also source replies from them. Depending on eligibility, these clients would be accepted as account holders. The bank adds a new account, the dabbawalas earn a little extra money.
“The bank has shown such a large heart in opening accounts for us,” said Dabbawala Association President Raghunath Medge. He and his colleagues, who were special guests at Prince Charles’ wedding, said opening a bank account had brought them more cheer than that visit.