Bankers have hailed the Prime Minister’s call to end “financial untouchability” and opened millions of accounts on the inaugural day itself.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday launched ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana’, aimed at bringing more people — 7.5 crore households by FY18 — under the banking fold.
State Bank of India, the country’s largest lender, said it has already opened 20 lakh basic savings accounts since August 16 and the top management is on the field supervising the account opening process.
“Banks are fully geared up to universalise banking access and financial inclusion under the Jan-Dhan Yojana,” SBI chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya said.
The use of debit cards will allow the unbanked to start building a transaction history, which can be a decisive step in initiating them towards financial inclusion. The scheme will also help the banks for better product designing and targeting, she added.
State-run IDBI Bank said it opened 3.62 lakh basic bank accounts as against the target of 2 lakh under the scheme.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said 7.5 crore accounts will be opened by January 25 next year and 1.5 crore of these were opened on the first day itself.
ICICI Bank, the country’s largest private sector lender, said it has opened 1 lakh accounts and plans to cross 2 crore mark by the end of the fiscal.
A senior official from state-run Bank of India said it has opened 6 lakh accounts, while another public-sector lender Union Bank has opened 5.5 lakh accounts against the target of two lakh.
Similarly, Dena Bank said it opened over three lakh basic accounts today.
Bank of Maharashtra, which has been given the lead bank status for Maharashtra, said it would open 2.9 lakh basic accounts by the end of the day today.
Experts have been stressing the need to go beyond achieving simple account opening numbers, and generating transactions in these accounts.
“Opening of accounts is just the beginning. For this scheme to be successful, we need innovative delivery models,” PwC India Leader for Banking Shinjini Kumar said.