Anuj Khanduja has over 20 years of experience in Digital Payments & Telecom across multiple product lines. Before joining MBS, he was Head – Product Management (Financial Inclusion) with Nucleus Software. He led product development for various successful B2B and B2C products where he was instrumental in leading product development and deployments from scratch. He has experience of working in multiple geographies like Africa, Middle East and Latin America. Anuj is a B-Tech in Computer Science and MBA from MDI with specialization in IT & Marketing.
The pandemic truly altered the way we live our lives. As we step into this next phase of the recovery, the future is uncertain in many ways. Financial services organizations are functioning in a changing world, the one that is constantly evolving. From banking and investment management to commercial real estate, financial services firms have a no-turning-back opportunity to shape their and the industry’s future.
Majorly, services will be driven by the boom in technology and the adoption of digital services since the pandemic. At an adoption rate of 87% in financial inclusion, Indian regulators, industry bodies, banks, and fintech have worked together to establish a finer economy. According to a report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the country’s fintech sector is estimated to be about $150-160 billion by the year 2025.
The onset of the pandemic has given a certain push to welcome digital, and API based banking in the country. Bank accounts opened under the Government’s flagship financial inclusion drive Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) reached 43.04 crores. Deposits in Jan Dhan bank accounts stood at more than Rs. 146,231 crores. These schemes have created the required banking infrastructure to enable financial inclusion, but a lot must be done to provide opportunities to access these services. Across sectors, financial organizations could overcome challenges and soar to new heights by prioritizing digital transformation.
The Government and regulators have created a conducive environment for enhancing this industry and achieving strategic objectives of financial inclusion i.e., to provide affordable and timely availability of financial services to the masses. The extension of facilities of banking services supported by Business Correspondents (BC) is further enhancing the financial inclusion and equality of opportunities to access financial services within rural masses. These agent networks of BC are easing out the pain points of customers in accessing financial services in rural areas. These agents have built trust relationships with customers through basic banking services using AePS (Aadhaar enabled Payment System) and value-added services etc.
A key focus area for FY-22 would be in the expansion of outreach of financial services through the vast existing BC network, to the areas not currently covered by Banks and offer a bouquet of services to customers like hassle-free micro-credit, insurance and payments. The objective should be to bring low-income groups into formal banking services ambit and protect their income, wealth and other resources.
Insurance is the most under-penetrated financial service in India with an insurance penetration of 4% for FY 21 . With the growing awareness of the need for protection especially in post-pandemic period, customers (including rural) have realized the need for insurance services. Such services including general and life insurance will enable them to safeguard against unforeseen circumstances. Companies need to focus on building awareness and coming up with innovative products which would suit the needs of the masses in rural areas e.g., crop insurance etc. BC channels would play a major role in taking these products to the masses through their vast agent network and help achieve the vision of ‘Surakshit Bharat’.
Low penetration of lending to retail and MSME segments in rural areas is also an opportunity where banks can offer better user experience and faster turn-around in lending through their BC partners. These networks of agents can also play a major role in generating leads along with servicing borrowers & collections and hence help decongest the branches. These networks enjoy significant operating cost advantages as compared to Bank branches.
With the growing demand for financial services owing to the rapid expansion of mobile and internet, there is a need for stringent data privacy and cybersecurity policies. Security aspects would play a key role as with the advent of digital payment there are increasing cases of frauds/hacks and identity thefts being reported. People at the bottom of the pyramid are more prone to hacks as they are inexperienced with digital financial transactions. Recently, RBI introduced new auto-debit rules mandating additional factors of authentication, effective 01, Oct 2021 to improve the safety and security of card transactions. Adequate precautions need to be strengthened to address issues of cybersecurity, data confidentiality, mis-selling, customer protection and grievance redress through appropriate financial education and awareness programs by the private and public sector institutions.
Given these trends, going ahead, the sector will truly see monumental growth whilst creating many opportunities for various players to join and play their unique roles.