Ratings firm Crisil today said improvement in financial inclusion in the country led to an increase in financial inclusion index, Inclusix, by 2.7 per cent.
The index was based on the latest data (as on March 31, 2012) provided by the Reserve Bank of India. The index measures financial inclusion up to the level of each of the 638 districts in India.
The score was the highest since 2009, Crisil said in a release.
"India's overall Crisil Inclusix score has risen by 2.7 in fiscal 2012 the highest annual increase since 2009. As many as 587 out of a total 638 districts in India and 34 out of 35 states and Union territories improved their scores, reflecting a broad-based improvement in financial inclusion," Managing Director & CEO Roopa Kudva said.
It said there was a growing momentum in financial inclusion due to a significant rise in new savings account across North, South, East, West and North-East.
"Overall, 79 million new savings accounts were opened in fiscal 2012, 12.6 per cent more than in fiscal 2011," it said.
Also, agricultural credit accounts grew at 11.1 per cent, the most since fiscal 2009. The number of bank branches in the bottom 100 districts increased by 6 per cent, faster than the all-India growth of 5.6 per cent.
Citing reasons behind the raise in index, it said new deposit accounts in north, south and east region led to 42 per cent increase in the Crisil Inclusix.
The north added 2.4 million new credit accounts contributing to 11 per cent rise in the index and addition of 30 per cent of the 5,125 new branches in south lead to 9 per cent increase in the index.
Also, the credit penetration in the top 50 districts jumped significantly as small-borrower accounts surged.
However, it said at 42.8 on a scale of 100, the all-India Crisil Inclusix score reflects under-penetration of formal banking in the country.
"Just one in two Indians have a savings account and one in seven has access to bank credit. There are wide disparities in access to financial services, too."
It said the six largest cities in the country have 10 per cent bank branches, the bottom 50 districts have merely 2 per cent of the bank branches.
"To speed up inclusion, financial services need to flow beyond the south and the large cities. Specifically, policy makers will have to incentivise expansion of