Is there really a solution for India’s struggle with financial inclusion?

At heart, Financial Inclusion is a very novel idea. Giving access to banking facilities and services to help uplift the masses and keep away from poverty. However, despite the obvious benefits and huge technological advances, around 2 billion people across the world remain unserved by formal banking ecosystem (World Economic Forum report, 2014). However, hurdles remain. Among the issues, levels of financial literacy, lack of formal documentation, reliability of the existing platform and affordability, social and infrastructure reach and coverage are some reasons for this lag. In recent years, there is significant progress in addressing these and both the Government and private sector are creating the infrastructure and reach.

There’s a lot to observe in India’s push for Financial Inclusion, however a meaningful financial inclusion goes beyond a simple bank account, verification of ID, and a cell phone. The absence of basic education keeps the rural masses ignorant about the services as well as their rights and responsibilities. This poses a challenge in adoption of technology as well. It is heartening that the Fintech landscape seems to be readying for this. In this jigsaw, localization and venularization hold the key.

The Language Barrier

There is a need to simplify the terms and jargon used by bankers, Financial Planners, Mutual Fund distributors. Technical speak such as Exit Load, NAV, paid up value, AMB etc leave the non-savvy customers rattled and keeps them away from availing these facilities. This also leads to dependency on the intermediary and possibility of being mis-informed or mis-guided. Various regulatory bodies are pushing the players in their respective domains to up the vernacular quotient and this has resulted in increase in the savings, insurance and investment base in the country.

The reality is that those not comfortable with English as a language, have an uphill battle in understanding financial jargon and face difficulties in performing basic transactions on their own. The policy makers need to step in and make efforts to bridge the gap. According to media reports, Kannada Development Authority (KDA) solicited the regional heads of all nationalized, rural and scheduled banks and asked them to make Kannada language mandatory for all staff.(*Source: Business Standard)

The scenario for internet usage is not very different. A joint report by KPMG and Google “Indian Languages – Defining India’s Internet,” stated that the total share of Indian language-based internet users accessing digital payments is expected to increase from 28% to 43% by 2021. This means that that the current English-only platforms will be inadequate to cater to these users, there is an urgent need for vernacular Fintech platforms. (*Source: Business Standard)

The need of the hour is to tide the language barrier in order to make financial inclusion a reality.Many successful attempts exist today in the domain of shopping, entertainment etc. While efforts have been made in the financial domain as well, there is still a large gap. By offering services in vernacular, these platforms will build a huge connect with the Bharat and contribute to a true financial inclusion revolution.

Fincare Small Finance Bank Ltd – a Scheduled Commercial Bank, offers services such as cash denomination of choice at all ATMs, UPI-enabled transactions, WhatsApp banking, mobile banking in 11 languages, ATM and Toll-Free Call Center in 7 languages, Internet Banking in two language options viz. English and Hindi. All these services are aimed at providing a ‘Smart’ banking experience to customers and fostering true financial inclusion in India.

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