Extending financial inclusion through branchless banking in urban India
First Rand Bank (FRB), one of South Africas leading banks, joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA) with plans to grow its banking services outside of Africa and provide financial access to 1 million people in India by 2016.
Since 2006, regulations in India have allowed banks to use non-bank agents or third parties to expand their services. First Rand is using this provision as part of its strategy for branchless banking, with plans to hire 2,000 business agents to provide banking services for hard-to-reach customers. As a result, the company will create new jobs in the local communities with plans to franchise its services and hire an estimated 150 business owners who will also provide direct employment in underserved areas.
First Rand has focused on the large percentage of urban Indians who are unbanked. The institution plans to develop additional products, including micro insurance and temporary loans to meet the needs of a growing, rural customer base. The company is also customizing its vast technology to focus on branchless banking and financial inclusion. FRB will also offer under banked citizens of Mumbai participation in its Easy Banking service. This service is available through its specially trained business correspondents and a vast network of branch banking and ATMs.
As part of its international expansion strategy, FirstRand identified India as a key market for future economic growth. In 2008, FRB received its banking license, becoming the first South African bank to open a branch in Mumbai, India.