The Centre has plans to use the 5.5 lakh strong public distribution system (PDS) network to extent banking services. The plan would initiate with a project that would cover a tenth of the PDS shops soon, a finance ministry official has revealed.
“We intend to use the PDS as a point of banking presence. You will be able to access your account by going to a point of sale terminal in a PDS shop. That is what we’re working towards,” the official said, adding that under the plan, the PDS network will act as a business correspondent for the banks. There is also plan to start a project to cover 55,000 shops soon.
All PDS shops are run by the state governments and they typically sell food articles, including grains, sugar and also kerosene, at subsidised prices as part of food security system.
At present, 1.5 lakh of the PDS shops have handheld machines which help establishing the identity of a beneficiary and also give a list of items he is entitled for, said another official. “They connect with the Aadhaar server to make this possible. By a simple software and hardware upgrade, the same machine can connect with the core banking system of a bank.”
Speaking on scope of the idea, the official said the PDS network is larger than that of post offices as every village with 1,000 population has a shop.