With a slew of analysis believing that the global economy may tip into global recession, the impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic is already being felt in every nation and every industry. This deep economic shock has already begun to evolve our traditional practices. Thus, we are currently headed to towards an era of less cash and digital payments.
Traditional financial institutions constitute of only 20-30 percent of the vendor/distributor base. A shortage of bank branches and ATMs across India’s hinterland amplifies the impending need of fintech for inclusion of Rural & Semi-urban customers. Amid the lockdown, when one can’t even access an ATM with restricted movement, the fintech facilitates easily accessibility of cash through Business Correspondents network across the country.
To fight the ongoing COVID 19 crisis, our Honourable Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced a 1.7 lakh crore relief package for the lower strata of the society. The package is likely to benefit approximately 800 million people across India. The responsibility now is on the shoulders of the Fintech Players and the Banking Correspondents to ensure the efficiency of this distribution of funds till the semi-urban and rural customers thus fulfilling the commitment of financial inclusion in the country.
However, this mammoth task won’t be easy since it contains a lot of hurdles that the players and the correspondents have to deal with to ensure last mile connectivity.
Firstly, Issue of accessibility is a primary concern, since during lockdowns, citizens are unable to come out of their houses to reach the retail points from where they can carry out their transactions using Aadhar Enabled Payment System (AePS) and mATM at our retail point rather than going all the way to the Bank branches and standing in queues to withdraw money.
Permissions from the Local Authorities is another challenge that the players and the Banking Correspondents are facing.Irrespective of the announcement the retailers in many parts of India are not permitted to open up the retail points by the local authorities. However, we at Payworld have provided all our retailer base with essential services Passes and ID’s for smooth and undisrupted functioning during the lockdown.
Technical Upliftment, with the quantum of transactions being carried out during the lockdown, it is but natural for the servers to go down and that adds to another challenge. It is the responsibility of the fintech players to be technically geared up for such a crisis so that every transaction can be carried out smoothly. For example. we have re-started our voice based call centers so that retailers can talk to the Payworld team in case any help is needed, our contact center with AI Chat Bot support / In App complaints etc. is also functional for retailers.
Additionally, just like us, all fintech players should be in constant touch with the Business Correspondent Federation of India (BCFI) for help and any assistance that is possible to the retailers.
“We believe that Fintech companies & Banking Correspondents through the help of the government will play a very critical and successful role in the months to come. The fact that an individual customer can go to a nearby retail point instead of going to a bank is a relief in itself for the customers. Payworld along with the other players will do everything possible to make sure that the funds get delivered to citizens who need it the most,” said Praveen Dhabhai, COO, Payworld
Views expressed in this article are the personal opinion of Praveen Dhabhai, COO, Payworld .