18,000 Maharashtra villages to get bank counters in Gram Panchayat offices

Nearly 18,000 villages in the state with zero access to banking will soon get special banking counters in their gram panchayat offices.

These counters will offer basic financial services such as depositing, withdrawing and transferring money.

The state’s rural development department will sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Common Services Centres (CSC) Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) initiative of the Centre, to roll out this financial inclusion programme by the end of this month. CSC SPV has tied up with 27 banks to introduce financial services.

“The CSC initiative will enable us to tie up with nationalised banks to set up banking cells at each of these gram panchayat offices. A village-level operator/ entrepreneur will be given the task of carrying out all banking transactions on behalf of the bank,” said rural development minister Jayant Patil.

He added that the reason this scheme would be easier to implement in the state was that a majority of panchayat offices are already equipped with a computer, a broadband connection and printer.

“At a later stage, we can introduce additional services, but for now, banking will be restricted to depositing, withdrawing and transferring cash,” said Patil.

For villagers, access to banking services could then be as simple as walking into the gram panchayat office to open an account.

The KnowYour-Customer protocol will be carried out at this counter itself: along with details registered online, the thumb print or electronic signature of the customer will be scanned. A nominal transaction fee could be charged for opening an account and carrying out certain transactions.

The operator will be handed fixed funds to carry out transactions manually and register the details into the customer’s account online.

“Currently, we have a force of such operators working in village centres that offer government services, who are paid through funds from the 13th Finance Commission. The rural development department could expand on this or get the gram panchayat to sponsor such operators,” said a senior official.


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