The need for financial inclusion has never been more urgent in this country.
Did you know that one out of every three people in India are without access to any formal financial services? That’s 450 million who lack the ability to save, borrow or spend through formal banking channels and the sense of safety and security that it provides. This is why financial inclusion has become critical for well-rounded growth and development for India, such a pivotal player in the global advancing economies, and its citizens.
The government has rightly made this a priority, and we will ride the journey of acceptance with them. Just one example is the Unique Identification Authority of India project, seeking to leverage the latest in biometrics and payment technology to provide a unique ID to each resident across the country. MasterCard is one of the collaborators working with the government to build and deliver the initiative, where our core product and processing infrastructure will be able to make it easier for any bank or financial institution to integrate UID as a part of their payments platform.
Leveraging today’s payment technology to help governments replace and improve legacy paper-based systems, not only improves government efficiencies, but in this case, will also serve to be a great enabler of financial inclusion.
Contrast this with the mobile revolution that this country has witnessed in recent years. With over 88 percent of Indian consumers owning a mobile phone, according to the recent MasterCard Mobile Payment Readiness Index, we should leverage and further develop the infrastructure to support a mobile banking system and unlock the future of access. The challenge is to create a safe, simple and smart way to facilitate payments, so watch this space as MasterCard is taking the lead in helping to create an eco-system by collaborating with the regulators, government agencies and market participants to enable secure mobile payments.
Have you visited India? It is a story that has similarities with many other countries around the world. What are your thoughts on how financial inclusion efforts can improve the lives of the millions of unbanked residents?