Rupee Rani
Studies have shown that giving vulnerable women access to financial tools, providing ways for them to keep their money safely empowers their confidence and increases their growth.
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The Basic Savings Bank Deposit (BSBD) Account has been recently introduced by banks to encourage  more people to transact and save with the bank. What sets a BSBD apart from a regular savings bank account is that there is no ‘minimum balance’ fee that will be levied on the account, making it more accessible than a savings bank account.

Why open a BSBD at all?

A BSBD is an excellent option for women with lower incomes, older women and for young children, primarily because of the lack of minimum balance fees. Although the facilities vary from bank to bank, most banks, especially public-sector banks, will equip the account holder with a debit card, a chequebook and online banking facilities. Opening the bank account will require proofs of identity to get through the usual Know Your Customer regulations, but if the person who wants to open the account has an Aadhar card, the account can be opened instantly and with minimal paperwork.

The money in the account earns interest like any other savings account. It’s also significant to note that some banks impose that the BSBD should be the only account that the person can have with the bank, so if you already operate a regular savings bank account, you might not be able to open a BSBD in the same bank.

The importance of financial inclusion

The reason BSBD accounts need to be talked about, despite the fact that they don’t cater to the readers of this column - educated, urban women – is because of their significance in the lives of vulnerable women – women who are wage earners, women who live in households afflicted by domestic violence, older women who live alone, young women from villages trying to make a living in the city to feed their families and women who are facing a combination of these challenges. Essentially, women we know and interact with on a daily basis. Studies across the world have proved, time and again that giving vulnerable women access to financial tools and providing ways for them to keep their money in a secure place, empowers their confidence and, as a result, dramatically increases their growth.

Money and violence

The bulk of violence that is carried out against women is by people they know well and are in intimate touch with – husbands, uncles and even siblings. The World Bank last month reported that a shocking 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner. The usual reaction among people when this statistic is revealed is, ‘why didn’t they leave the marriage/house?’. Here’s the thing – even educated, well-aware and affluent women in India don’t just leave the marriage the moment abuse happens because of years and years of social conditioning where they’re told to ‘adjust’ or are even blamed for the abuse that happens. Naturally, it is additionally difficult for vulnerable women who come from difficult backgrounds to claim independence, especially if they’re dependent on the household for money.

Having a bank account, where there’s no pressure or penalty to maintain a certain amount of money can help women set aside money for themselves in a secure way, instead of hoarding cash that can be misappropriated or stolen. It gives them the assurance that they have some amount of security in their future and the confidence to take decisions that they otherwise wouldn’t.

Talking about money

Although the government and banks are the ones who provide facilities to be more financially inclusive, real change happens only when it becomes a part of everyday conversation. The more you talk about money with those around you (and not just those you share a tax bracket with), the more surprised you’ll be by how much you can teach, but also learn.

Rupee Rani is a weekly column on finance for women. Write to us with your queries at rupeerani@thenewsminute.com.