Policies required for mandatory recruitment of at least 30 percent of the workforce as female BCs: SBI report

There is a need for a policy framework for mandatory recruitment of at least 30 percent of the total workforce as female Business Correspondents (BCs), especially in places where access to and use of Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) accounts is low for women, according to an economic research report from the State Bank of India (SBI).

Referring to the results of the Global Findex Report 2017, which revealed that the majority of women’s PMJDY accounts remain inoperative, the “Ecowrap” report noted that while of the total 45.2 crore PMJDY accounts opened to date, the whole 55 percent of account holders are women, female agents make up less than 10 percent of the total BC workforce today.

“The problem is more accentuated in the northern, eastern and central states, accommodating the bulk of the population growth, as it also houses close to two-thirds of the total BC network, but comes quite short in terms of better representation of women. agents, “said Saumya Kanti Ghosh, Group Chief Economic Advisor, SBI.

If more women find a foothold in the BC ecosystem, they can change the socio-economic structure of these areas significantly and meaningfully, he said, adding that there is a need to pitchfork women as torchbearers of Banking Correspondents (BCs).

PMJDY recipients had an outstanding balance of ₹ 168,138.78 crore in their accounts on 13 April 2022. BCs are retail agents engaged by banks to provide banking services other than a bank branch / ATM.

PMJDY seeks to ensure universal access to banking facilities with at least one basic bank account for each household, financial knowledge, access to credit, insurance and pension facilities. In addition, the recipients will receive RuPay debit cards with built-in accident insurance coverage of र 1 lakh. The plan also envisages channeling all government benefits to the recipients’ accounts and pushing the center’s direct transfer scheme (DBT).

The SBI report noted that “Considering the ability of BCs to positively impact the financial inclusion of around 25 crore (and, counted) female PMJDY account holders, the” gender “of the agent, the face that connects the myriad financial worlds with questionable, hesitant and low on even basic principles for qualification recipients … becomes a crucial important factor in spreading and deepening economic inclusion.

Better representation in the south

According to Ecowrap, the southern states are doing better on the parameter “representation of female agents”, reflecting the better digital skills that are spreading to the bottom of the pyramid and are now being exploited at grassroots level.

“Female BC agents bring more transparency into the system, build more relationship with different customer groups and promote a demand-driven incremental revenue while giving a boost to small savings schemes and social security offerings,” Ghosh said.

The SBI’s Economic Research Department (ERD) stressed that female BC agents bring more transparency into the system, build more relationship with different customer groups and promote a demand-driven incremental revenue while giving a boost to small savings schemes and social security offerings.

Better response for women BCs

The ERD suggested that Bank Sakhis employed under the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) could be considered for appointment as BCs, as they are well versed in routine banking operations and have mandated IIBF (Indian Institute of Banking and Finance) certification.

Additionally, a central pool can be set up containing details of all such Bank Sakhis. As an enabler, action must be taken on the NRLM / National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM) website to upload Bank Sakhis information, which banks and BCs can access, to become involved as CSPs for customer service points).

The ERD team believed that reserving at least 30 percent of BCs for women in the future could have three profound consequences for the banking system in addition to strengthening women’s participation in the workforce.

First, all customers feel that female BC agents have more patience and are more willing to answer queries or explain product features. In addition, female clients are willing to share their family’s financial needs more openly with female BC agents.

Second, female BC agents bring similar or more business and can serve more of the subordinates. Female BC agents play a crucial role in deepening economic inclusion. They are more likely to serve customers in remote areas, older customers and other under-served customers.

Third, networks of female agents could offer a mix of benefits, such as encouraging savings among women, deploying more female first-time users, low-value but high-frequency transactions, and providing out-of-door financial services.

Published on

April 26, 2022

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