AP Govt sets target to provide Smart cards by Aug. 2008

The Andhra Pradesh Government (India) has set a target to provide smart cards to 10.8 million white ration card holders supported by handheld biometric machines in each of the 25,000 gram panchayats in the state by the end of August, 2008.

The government will train women self help groups as banking correspondents to handle transactions of their families, including distribution of old-age pensions and disbursement of wages under the National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREG) programme. Several banks including State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of India, Andhra Bank, Axis Bank, Union Bank of India and AP Grameen Vikas Bank are involved in the pilot scheme. Financial Information Network and Operations Limited (FINO), a subsidiary of ICICI Bank has developed the handheld machine with all-in-one features. The government would provide a room either attached to the gram panchayat office or built separately for running the mini-bank. Banks will open accounts for these poor families, who are also the beneficiaries of various government welfare schemes, and all the transactions including savings and withdrawals would be handled through their respective smart cards and biometric machines.