India looks to spread financial services via mobile app, quick loans portal

Arun Jaitley, finance minister, India

The Indian government has launched a web portal, a mobile application and a financial inclusion index in order to bring the country’s unbanked under the ambit of financial services industry.

Aimed at supporting the medium, small and micro enterprises, the web portal gives access to pre-approved loans of up to Rs 1 billion within 59 minutes from state-run lenders.  “The portal sets a new benchmark in loan processing and reduces the turnaround time from 20-25 days to 59 minutes. Subsequent to this in-principle approval, the loan will be disbursed in 7-8 working days,” the finance ministry said in a release.

The portal is backed by a consortium of Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) and five state-run lenders—State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Punjab National Bank, Vijaya Bank and Indian Bank.

The government also launched an app called “Jan Dhan Darshak” that helps locate nearest bank branches, ATMs, post offices and banking correspondents. Over 500,000 such financial touch points have already been mapped on this app while 135,000 banking correspondents will be added by December this year.

The app has voice-enabled feature and provides contact numbers of these touch points, the finance ministry said in a statement. “User feedback will go directly to the concerned bank for carrying out the necessary updation in data on financial touch points,” the statement said.

The finance ministry also said it will release an Annual Financial Inclusion Index that serves as a measure of access, usage and quality of formal financial products in the country. The single composite index is expected to aid internal policy making. The index fulfills the G20 Financial Inclusion Indicators requirements, the ministry said.

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