While bringing citizens under the umbrella of banking and digital financial services has remained a constant endeavour of several fintech companies, people have now started going more towards digital payments and contactless payments, ever since the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic.
The country has 155,000 bank branches and 210,000 ATMs as of December 2019, however, access to cash remains an issue in rural and semi-urban locations.
In such a scenario, fintech startups such as BANKIT have been trying to assist people in rural areas in the last two months (since lockdown was announced).
BANKIT is an assisted B2B2C (business-to-business-to-
AePS is a bank-led model which allows online interoperable transactions at PoS (Micro ATM) through the banking agents using the Aadhaar authentication.
A Micro ATM (mATM) refers to a device that is used to deliver basic banking services. The platform enables banking agents who could be a local kirana shop owner and will act as a mATM, to conduct instant transactions.
The company says it has a presence in 40% of the country mainly targeting tier 2, tier 3, tier 4 and tier 5 areas to offer services via 50,000+ BANKIT outlets, salespersons and kirana /retail stores.
BANKIT has tied up with banks, agents and retail stores, which are present in rural areas or villages.
These kirana stores have the accessibility to help locals with online cash transactions via AePS/ mATM and provide cash withdrawal services.
â€śWe aim to reach out to people in every corner of the country, as today we are witnessing the importance of digital transactions and liquid money during the pandemic. Till now, we have tied up with 10,000+ small kirana stores across India. Our plan is to expand services across all verticals by the end of 2020,â€ť Amit Nigam, COO & Executive Director of BANKIT told TNM.
BANKIT not only provides financial services through its agents in rural areas but is also trying to tackle the issue of financial illiteracy among the rural community. So BANKITâ€™s agents not only help the poor without documentation in availing banking facilities, but also educate them with the necessary and basic information.
Customers who already have a bank account can avail services with basic documents like Aadhaar card, phone number and account number to help them in recharges, online transactions and cash withdrawals with value added services like insurance, travel bookings etc.
Being a fintech company, BANKIT operates on a B2B2C business model to provide banking and financial solutions under one roof. It partners with neighbourhood retail stores, who can offer assisted digital financial services like cash out via APES, micro ATM.
â€śWe enrol these stores as BANKIT agents and provide them very basic on call training /demo to use BANKIT's AePS/ mATM services to provide cash withdrawal services and other services like prepaid recharges, bill payments, domestic money transfer, travel bookings etc. as per the customer's requirements,â€ť adds Amit.
BANKIT offers services through mobile app and web portal. â€śOur wide agent network who are locals of the area, are always available to help people in the hinterlands where dialects change across districts. Additionally, we have our customer care team in four local languages in Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam and Tamil, apart from English and Hindi,â€ť says Amit.
Currently, it is engaged with NBFCs (non-banking financial companies) and loan providers offering rural communities market access and technology support.
During the COVID pandemic, the company has on boarded 20000+ agents in the last two months. Additionally, online training classes are being provided to agents to sharpen their skills and understand better about the BANKIT product portfolio.
Most of BANKITâ€™s Remittance Business outlets and agents are spread in the southern part of the country viz. Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and in some parts of Kerala. Amid the pandemic, agents of BANKIT have undertaken an initiative to protect locals in the area, by offering doorstep cash delivery to maintain physical distancing. The company says its agents take proper protection by covering themselves with masks, gloves so that the virus does not transmit.
â€śBANKIT is aiming to add 1 lakh outlets in the urban and rural parts of the country during this year under its channel expansion plan. Also, the company is planning to launch a new line of products and services in the coming months,â€ť says Amit.