IBA should push up efforts to deepen banking presence: FM

IBA should push up efforts to deepen banking presence: FM

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday appealed to banks to reach the nook and corner of the country which have high level of economic activity but continue to lack banking services. Addressing banking industry lobby grouping Indian Banks Association, Sitharaman asked lenders to push up efforts of deepening presence.

“Even today many panchayats don’t have a bank branch, I am not saying that you need to have a physical presence everywhere, digitisation has saved a lot of costs without compromising the service banks provide,” the minister said.

“The banks and IBA among themselves can decide where you need to be physically present and where digital services can be extended. A good rationalised approach will help the government’s financial inclusion agenda.”

Giving the lenders the option to decide which place requires banking presence through a brick and mortar presence and where a step-down presence would help, Sitharaman said that the IBA should digitalise and map banking presence in each districts and identify gaps. The minister added that she is not against digitalisation and efforts.

Speaking on the setting up of the National Asset Reconstruction Company, Sitharaman said that the banks’ books are much cleaner now and this will help the government as the recapitalisation requirements go down.

“The burden on government will be far lesser as your books will be cleaner,” the minister said.

The minister also praised banks that joined the account aggregator framework, and said that financial inclusion cannot happen if credit doesn’t reach far and wide.

“The future of credit outreach can happen throughout the year, through the system and there need not be separate credit outreach programs,” she said. “If account aggregator model is put to use is the right away, credit will be available on-tap, without worry, to even small customers who reach you.”

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