Cashless Jharkhand bankers, chamber says mobile internet connectivity could be a concern

There have been many cases where banking services provided through auxiliary modes – like banking correspondents, have closed down due to poor connectivity in remote areas.

Written by Prashant Pandey | Ranchi | Published:December 1, 2016 6:36 pm
mission cashless Jharkhand, Jharkhand, mobile internet, demonetisation, cashless society, internet, news, latest news, India news, national news, Jharkhand news The FJCCI has held programmes in association with banks to train people, especially the businessmen, to download and use mobile banking apps. (source: AP)

With the announcement of “mission cashless Jharkhand” from December 2, one of the biggest challenges that may be faced is in providing mobile internet connectivity across the state. State government officials said that they have requested the internet service providers (ISPs) to improve and expand their quality to ensure that people are able to switch over to ‘cashless mode’ of transaction.

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“We have all the apps and services that can digitise the entire state; in fact, entire nation. Wherever we have connectivity our app will work,” said DGM (Ranchi), SBI, Dushmant Kumar Panda, who headed the team that gave presentation to the policemen at the Police Headquarters on how to download and use SBI’s e-wallet, called SBI Buddy. Asked about mobile internet connectivity, Panda admitted that this was an issue that needed to be looked into.

“There are areas where it is poor. And we plan to have maximum number of people using it. So, it is obviously an important issue,” he told The Indian Express, adding that SBI would simultaneously be launching its own campaign for 15 days to popularise the use of SBI Buddy and other such products. There have been many cases where banking services provided through auxiliary modes – like banking correspondents, have closed down due to poor connectivity in remote areas of naxal-affected districts like Khunti.

Now, there is expected to be a quantum jump in the number of users using the mobile banking service. The Jharkhand police have taken the initiative of training the personnel in uniform with a view that they would train five other ‘civilians’ and help increase the number of users of e-wallet in a short time.

DGP D K Pandey told his men at the workshop that this was ‘a battle for economic independence and, as members of force, they can’t afford to lose and stop mid-way’. “There are 60,000 Jharkhand policemen. Together with CRPF and ITBP companies, we have around two lakh personnel. We aim to train all of them and they, in turn, would train five others in the next two weeks taking the number of such people to over eight lakhs or more. They should target the small shopkeepers like the tea-seller, the paan-shop owner, the autowallah, the grocer and the milk man etc,” he told the gathering.

Also, with the state government planning to rope in students from 5,000 colleges across the states and anganwadi workers etc, the pressure on the systems is likely to increase. And, said officials, this was something that needed a serious look.

Office-bearers from the Federation of Jharkhand Chambers of Commerce and Industry too expressed concern on this front. “At least 90 per cent or even more online transactions are going to be through mobile. The number of people using computers for online transaction is always going to be low. The state government should give directions to the internet service providers (ISPs) to improve their network,” said Vivek Tibrewal, chairman of the IT sub-committee of FJCCI.

The FJCCI has also held programmes in association with banks to train people, especially the businessmen, to download and use such mobile banking apps. “We have also proposed a meeting with all the ISPs. It is likely to take place next week,” said Tibrewal.

As of now, private ISP like Airtel has launched its 4G service in the state. Also, Reliance Jio too is providing the service as of now. “However, the bulk of traffic would have to be handled by the BSNL. Unless and until, they provide a good service, this initiative would struggle,” said Tibrewal. Efforts to contact BSNL senior officials did not yield result.

Contacted, Principal Secretary (Information and Technology) Sanjay Kumar said: “We held a meeting with the ISPs today. It has been decided to use issue appeals by the CM in text and through voice SMSes to the people for shifting to cashless transaction.”

Asked about the connectivity challenges, Kumar said: “We have been requesting them to improve their infrastructure and holding capacity. Most of the ISPs are aware that the new business mode – based on online transactions – is going to be beneficial for them. So, they are already on-board on this front.”