As most banks have begun their digital journey, developed digital strategies and in process of planning to build the so called “Agile” business models, the journey will remain “halfway” if “Rural” is strategy completely eliminates “development & human touch”. Machines will replace humans, transactions will churn faster and services shall become efficient. This is true if we sit in the boardrooms, think about digital disruptions that we imagine & perceive, shall change the world in next few years. However we will need to re-examine our assumptions based on aspirations of many & plenty (majority), Rural and Poor.
It is important to understand the banks cannot get completely swayed away by “digital disruption” alone. They shall have to assimilate digital into their culture to trigger a positive evolution and create a better customer experience. The customer experience I am talking about is for the majority who could never imagine if a flickering “Screen” can replace “Human” or are still frightened to see an ATM Box pushing money in their laps. At as far as mass banking and especially rural banking is concerned client “centricity & sensitivities” will become far more critical, if we need to effectively bring them in mainstream banking and development channel.
As long as “human being” cannot come up with an alternative to “Food” and “Water”, the smart-phones, tabs and apps will only be information tools (most of which pushed information down the throat). These digital items cannot be sliced to “Quench thirst” or “Feed a hungry stomach”. The day it happens there will no need for Banks. Ponder over this???
It’s important that banking in any form addresses the genuine & crying needs of Rural India, Farmers, Artisans, wage works, women who feed the Urban India, Build Cities & Clothe us.
Do talk about customer experience in the meetings after placing yourself in their shoes? It is paradoxical that 1% people’s opinion & experience decides the needs, choices and perception for “99%” who are out of this ambit of these discussions & opinions.
We must remember smart phones, Tabs and Apps cannot “quench thirst” or “feed a hungry stomach” for a Rural Indian. Food has to still to be grown on “soil & fields, irrigated, harvested, de-husked” by farmers and wage earners who only earn a small fraction of the final value.
Probably we may need to reorient & realign the banking to address the needs of Rural India. Its needs to be right priced and made a profitable proposition but it needs to act as growth engine for Rural and support the poor. The Digital Touch is great initiative but it needs to closely intertwined with a Development Touch and we should ensure that “human” touch is not lost in the process.
Manoj Rawat | The Rural Banker
www.manojrawat.com | @TheManojRawat | firstname.lastname@example.org