While banks continue to debate over whether financial inclusion makes commercial sense, and the government yet to make a move on the Nachiket Mor committee recommendations on the spread of inclusive banking, it is important to keep in mind the progress made by mobile phone companies. Within a year of, by and large, low-key work, mobile phone firms Bharti Airtel and Vodafone have already got 2 million customers for their mobile money schemes. And, going by estimates of these companies, the growth is around 15% month-on-month.
Mobile money is probably the perfect solution for the country’s 20-25 crore migrant labour population that needs to send small sums of money home, but finds unconventional methods too risky and conventional methods—through banks—too cumbersome. Given the large ownership of mobile phones, however, 2 million migrant workers have already deposited small sums of money with mobile phone firms and also been able to transfer this to their relatives. While there are still some glitches, between mobile phone firms, banking correspondent networks and what the Mor committee defines as ‘payment banks’ and ‘wholesale banks’, it looks like financial inclusion is all set for a big boost.