Maharashtra ration shops to offer basic banking services

Mumbai: In a unique initiative, the Maharashtra government has collaborated with the private sector Yes Bank to enable Fair Price Shops to offer limited banking services to the far flung rural populations, an official said on Tuesday. Under this first-ever initiative, through the e-PDS programme, ration shops in the state will be taken on board as Business Correspondent Agents’ (BCAs) of Yes Bank.

Yes Bank will onboard around 40 per cent of the 20,000-plus ration shops in 12 districts like Thane, Palghar, Pune, Kolhapur, Latur and others to extend banking and value-based services that could benefit around seven lakh citizens. These BCAs would provide small-value cash deposits into any bank accounts including domestic remittances and withdrawals from any account via Aadhaar-Enable Payment System (AEPS). All ration shops will also be able to collect digital payments through the AEPS to offer services like bill payments, DTH recharges, mobile recharges, bus or hotel bookings, etc., in return for a commission.

The AEPS is a bank-led model permitting online interoperable financial inclusion transactions at any point of sale through the BCA of any bank using Aadhaar authentication. Food & Civil Supplies Minister Girish Bapat said that the e-PDS has helped the government eliminate more than one million fake ration cards in the state besides fully digitalising inventory management for government and ration shops. “The new initiative will help boost the BCAs with additional revenue through various services they will offer to the people and allow the citizens to have convenience of banking services at their neighbourhood ration shop,” Bapat said.

Yes Bank’s Chief Digital Officer Ritesh Pai said that the bank remains committed to improving the ‘last mile inclusion’ and translating financial access into enhanced convenience and usage for smoother delivery of G2C (Government to Citizens) through simple digital solutions. To be spread across the rest of the state gradually, the scheme is expected to help Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) users who have a card but no access to point of sale machines or ATMs to use their bank accounts for daily purposes with a simple biometric authentication.

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