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A pillar of strength, Always

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The State Bank of India has stood by the country and the government in the toughest times – be it famine, war, financial crisis or natural disasters, and will continue to be committed to the nation, says Geetanjali Mishra

Geetanjali Mishra,

Geetanjali Mishra,
GM – Government Business, State Bank of India

The State Bank of India is one of the banks that has always stood firmly behind the government whenever and wherever the need has arisen. In so many ways it is actually a part of the government. From the owner of a bullock cart to the owner of a private jet, the customers of SBI are from various walks of life spanning across many generations. The Government of India is our biggest and number one customer.

Computerisation in SBI started much before it started in the government sector. By the time government was conscious of technology, we were already on the core banking platform and were stable. So, whenever new changes came, for example, last year we handled the pressure for Direct Benefit Transfer payments, and petroleum and gas subsidies smoothly, and it took us about two months to put the things in place in coordination with Aadhaar, petroleum marketing agencies, the ministry of petroleum, NPCI and the likes.

“Computerisation in SBI started much before it started in the government sector. By the time government was conscious of technology, we were already on the core banking platform and were stable”

We are geared to have extra manpower to deliver whatever is deliverable. But again, the problems are the same as one might have with one’s technology partner, and you may have issues with your staff, because more than technology it is the people issues that matter.

We are proud to be associated with the government in many of the projects. Apart from the passport project, we are now handling a project where people across the world in about 180 countries will be able to pay their online visa fee without the need to visit Indian embassies or VFS or anywhere else; straightaway the Government of India will provide the tourist visas. We are there as a partner to receive the dollar remittances across the world and have, over the time, handled government transactions in a much better way.

We have very recently acquired something called the aggregated services: if you make an online payment, you will see that when it comes to net banking, a choice of list of banks come and below it will be written that ‘by Citrus Pay’ or ‘by Bill Desk’. So, we will be substituting ourselves in that slot. Although it is a very expensive proposition, still we want it for the government, so that government money does not move to any of the private aggregators whose servers could be located outside the country. That is one initiative we are trying. Maybe in the next three to four months we will be ready with our own aggregator services, and once RuPay comes, we will be able to give the citizens the best value when it comes to citizens paying to the government or the government making payments to citizens.

“We have prepared ourselves to handle the pressure coming from the Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan Yojana financial inclusion scheme. I think the idea of linking Aadhaar with opening of account is a good one.”

PMJDY: Mission Mode Objectives

PMJDY to be executed in the Mission Mode, envisages provision of affordable financial services to all citizens within a reasonable distance. It comprises the following six pillars:-

  • Universal access to banking facilities: Mapping of each district into Sub Service Area (SSA) catering to 1,000-1,500 households in a manner that every habitation has access to banking services within a reasonable distance, say 5 km, by 14 August, 2015. Coverage of parts of J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, North East and the Left Wing extremism-affected districts which have telecom connectivity and infrastructure constraints would spill over to the Phase II of the programme (15 August, 2015 to 15 August, 2018)
  • Providing Basic Banking Accounts with overdraft facility and RuPay Debit card to all households: The effort would be to first cover all uncovered households with banking facilities by August 2015, by opening basic bank accounts. Account holder would be provided a RuPay debit card. Facility of an overdraft to every basic banking account holder would be considered after satisfactory operation/ credit history of six months.
  • inancial Literacy Programme: Financial literacy would be an integral part of the Mission in order to let the beneficiaries make best use of the financial services being made available to them.
  • Creation of Credit Guarantee Fund: Creation of a Credit Guarantee Fund would be to cover the defaults in overdraft accounts.
  • Micro Insurance: To provide micro-insurance to all willing and eligible persons by 14 August, 2018, and then on an ongoing basis.
  • Unorganised sector pension schemes like Swavalamban: By 14 August, 2018 and then on an ongoing basis. Under the mission, the first three pillars would be given thrust in the first year.

We have prepared ourselves to handle the pressure coming from the recent Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan Yojana financial inclusion scheme to open accounts. I think the idea of linking Aadhaar with opening of account is a good one.

We are partnering with most of the central and state government departments and whenever there is a crisis in the government, we are there to help. For example, when cyclone Phailin came in Orissa, the State Bank of India branches were kept open round-the-clock for three-four days to provide district collectors and officials money whenever they needed. Similarly, we were there in the Kargil war and there was not a single day the bank had closed down because the country was at war. So, that kind of commitment we have for the country and we will continue to serve the government with the same commitment.

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