Villagers across 12 states in India to benefit from mobile banking

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Thousands of villagers across 12 states are likely to get their social security pension and wages paid under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) scheme with the help of mobiles over the coming few months.

More than 250,000 people have registered for mobile banking services in Andhra Pradesh. The state government is rolling out a programme to enroll three million people by the end of 2008. The Central Government will pilot the mobile banking project in 12 states of the country and the entire ecosystem is being managed by the government with the help of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), banks, leading telecom operators and technology implementation partners. The state government has partnered with banks like the State Bank of India (SBI), Union Bank of India, Axis Bank, Andhra Bank, State Bank of Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh Grameen Vikas Bank, and Punjab National Bank to bring this service across the state. A Little World (ALW), a technology implementation partner has joined hands with NXP Semiconductors to design a mobile for the AP government that encloses an RFID card, and works with ALW's micro-banking platform ZERO. The mobile acts as a branch of the bank by storing a database of customers. It also has a smartcard, which biometrically stores the identity of the customer such as name, address, photograph, fingerprint templates and relevant details of the savings or loan accounts held by the issuing bank. Customers get a secure electronic identity via phone or smartcard, while agents take deposits and dispense cash. ALW works with the banks on a revenue-sharing basis. ALW is also conducting a pilot programme with SKS Microfinance and the Bank of India to provide a mobile banking service that works on BSNL SIM cards. Ekgaon Technologies has also developed a system for tracking transactions made by self-help groups. Ekgaon has partnered with the likes of CARE, WorldVision and the World Bank to conduct a pilot which it plans to extend to 14 Indian states. To promote mobile banking services in India, Airtel has partnered with the Indian Farmers' Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) to set up IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Limited in Rajasthan. Under this initiative, the cooperative department will provide mobile handsets to farmers at marginal price through its outlets in the rural areas. These handsets would be loaded with green SIM cards, which will flash daily updates on agricultural practices and weather forecast free of cost.

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