India launches new digital banking units to expand financial inclusion

The DBUs will enable people who do not have a personal computer, laptop or smartphone to access banking services

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The residents of dozens of towns and villages in India will soon gain access to so-called ‘digital banking units’, designed to increase financial inclusion in rural areas of the country. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced  that 75 digital banking units (DBUs) will be set up across India to ensure the benefits of digital banking reach every corner of the country.

The DBUs will be brick-and-mortar units and help Indian citizens access basic banking facilities, such as account opening, loan applications, funds transfer and paying taxes online, according to the finance ministry.

Modi said: “[The] Digital Banking Units are another big step toward making banking services more accessible to citizens.” 

The government aims to provide maximum services with minimum infrastructure. All of this will happen digitally, reducing the need for physical paperwork. Nirmala Sitharaman, the finance minister, added that the DBUs will enable people who do not have a personal computer, laptop or smartphone to access banking services. 

Sitharaman said: “Deploying technology to achieve development goals is a hallmark of our Government.” 

This is a further effort by the Indian government to utilise technology to better serve people living in remote areas of the country. In 2014, the government launched Jan Dhan Yojana, a scheme designed to increase access to banking and financial services. More than 470 million bank accounts have been opened as part of the scheme. 

“We have given top priority to ensure that banking services reach the last mile,” said Modi. “We not only removed the physical distance but, most importantly, we removed the psychological distance.” 

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