FOLLOWING THE demonetisation decision, the surge in new Jan Dhan accounts and requests for Point of Sale (POS) terminals has bucked geographical trends. While urban areas saw a sharp rise in new Jan Dhan accounts, banks have been flooded with requests for POS terminals not just from Tier 1 cities, but from semi-urban and rural areas as well.
About 6.95 lakh new Jan Dhan accounts were opened in the first week after demonetisation. Over 92 per cent of these (6.41 lakh) were in urban areas, in contrast to the trend of the scheme’s higher penetration in rural areas since its launch in August 2014. In the 12 weeks before November 9, an average of 9.20 lakh and 5.53 lakh new Jan Dhan accounts were opened every week in rural and urban areas respectively.
But in November 9-16, over 3 lakh new accounts were opened in urban areas, while the number of rural accounts was down by 63,754. Even banks with limited presence in urban areas opened more than 1.12 lakh urban accounts — over three times the weekly average of the previous 12 weeks — in the first two weeks of demonetisation. Similarly, nearly 73 per cent of the new Jan Dhan accounts in public sector banks in November 9-23 were in urban areas.
The number of new Jan Dhan accounts climbed to 9.52 lakh in the second week after demonetisation. The scheme’s overall 3:2 rural:urban ratio of accounts was restored with 5.69 lakh new rural and 3.84 lakh new urban accounts in November 16-23. Meanwhile, an HDFC Bank official said they have received demands for POS terminals from places like Muzaffarpur in Bihar, Jharia in Jharkhand and several districts in North Bengal. “In places where there is a telephone connection, we are working on installing POS machines. In others, we are trying to connect them through GPRS or MPOS,” said the official.
“We have over 50,000 requests for POS pending now. The demand has gone up manifold after the demonetisation announcement,” said Rajnish Kumar, Managing Director, State Bank of India (SBI). “We are getting enquiries from urban, semi-urban and rural areas… from all the states in the country. SBI has 3,40,000 POS terminals across the country now. We expect a quantum leap in demand for POS in the coming months,” he said.
However, a banker with another leading private sector bank said the bulk of requests is still from Tier 1 cities. “In Tier 2 cities, customers are now slowly making the shift from using their debit cards to withdraw cash to using them for payments. The demand is progressing slowly,” said the official. Bankers estimate that demands for over two lakh POS terminals are pending before the entire banking sector.
The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) said there has been an impressive surge in the usage of RuPay cards at POS terminals at shops and other retail outlets. During the first two days after demonetisation, RuPay usage on POS / e-Commerce was around 8 lakh transactions a day, compared to a daily average of 4 lakh transactions earlier.