Vodafone India has joined hands with Jaipur Rugs—country’s largest rug manufacturer June 9 to facilitate payments and improve the lives of many poor artisans—a majority of them are women— via M-pesa mobile wallets.
Vodafone India provides customers with a new currency in the form of M-Pesa, the world renowned mobile wallet and money transfer service to facilitate services like money transfer, bill payments, and recharge on the move from the mobile. It caters to all segments of the society, from the unbanked to the under banked and to the net-savvy and evolved customers.
The strategic partnership is aimed at providing artisans access to the basic financial services. Jaipur Rugs has around 40,000 home-based artisans spread across 600 villages of whom 80 per cent are women, residing in disadvantaged communities of rural India. They do not have access to the basic financial services.
There are only one lakh plus bank branches in India while in rural clusters, penetration is only five per cent. For every 1,000 km there are 33 branches in the rural parts. The Post Office network has rural presence but it takes time for the money to reach the beneficary.
Officials said that the partnership between Vodafone M-Pesa and Jaipur Rugs will address their requirements and provide benefits like on time payments, en-cashing wages from nearest agents, reduces risk in carrying cash, scaling up business by leveraging its foothold in difficult-to-access rural markets.
Business Head, Rajasthan Circle of Vodafone India Amit Bedi said, “The partnership envisages offering financial services to the unbanked and the underbank communities. The M-Pesa would ensure safe, secure, and cashless transaction capability”.
Bedi further said the M-Pesa will bring transformational benefits to Jaipur Rugs and further drive financial inclusion by empowering rural community with transparent financial capabilities.
Jaipur Rugs’ founder Nand Kishore Chaudhary said that the firm is eated to join hands with Vodafone for the first of its kind initiative for weaving community of rural India. “It will not only mitigate the cash transaction risk but also save many of our resources and encourage weavers to develop a habit of saving,” he said.
With a pan-India distribution of over 90,000 agents and more than three million customers, Vodafone M-Pesa is the largest banking correspondent in the country and is playing a vital role in enabling financial inclusion and m-commerce. Over 50% Vodafone base is rural and Vodafone already has a strong distribution and mobile penetration and the ability to provide banking services on mobile.
In Rajasthan, Vodafone M-Pesa was launched in July 2013. In a very short span, the service has reached out to 195 tehsils in 34 districts through a network of 7000 authorized agents and 255 Vodafone exclusive stores.