The government on Tuesday announced three initiatives to take banking to the last mile comprising a financial inclusion index, geographical mapping of banking services and hassle-free online loans for MSMEs valuing up to Rs 10 million.
After an annual review meeting of the public sector banks, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley launched a common online platform for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) credit which will enable businesses to get loans up to Rs 10 million approved through a completely automated process within just 59 minutes.
He said the MSMEs had been a matter of concern for the government being the sector that generates the largest number of employment opportunities.
Freeing credit to the sector from all forms of red-tapism would lead to quick disbursal of loans and help in the growth of MSMEs, the Minister said.
The government also announced a financial inclusion index, which would be released by the end of this year and would rate states on their performance on last-mile banking services availability.
Jaitley said the financial inclusion index would create an element of competition among states with each of them vying for last mile connectivity in banking.
Financial Services Secretary Rajeev Kumar said the index would be a measure of access to and usage of basic formal financial products and services including savings, remittances, credit, insurance and pension products.
The government also announced a banking services infrastructure locator app "Jan Dhan Darshak" which aims to bring banking within reach of every citizen through over 500,000 "banking touch points" comprising of bank branches, banking correspondents, ATMs, common service centres and post offices.
"The GIS (Geographic Information System) mapping of banking services will be a convenient method for any person to find the nearest banking touch point," Jaitley said adding this would complement the government's initiative of having banking services available within five kilometres of every household.