Banking for Empowerment. Banking with Development and Human Touch !

Sustainable Agriculture, MSME & Green Value Chain Finance | Priority Sector Finance | Manoj Rawat, ValueFin India

Banking for Empowerment. Banking with Development and Human Touch !

Banking for empowerment. Banking with a Development & Human Touch !

Banking for Empowerment ! In the age of Digital Touch, Banking does need Development Touch and a human touch when it comes to Rural & Excluded!

I see banking not as a branch, ATM, mobile app, paper or ledgers. “Banking System” is about being a enabler in development of economy and being an empowering force for the citizens of the country. Banking Framework is about creating a soul that is sensitive, guiding, enabling, empowering and uplifting. Today’s Economy is Banking Economy and will remain for many years.

For me, Banking shall truly succeed by Bank helping its customers see a dream, enable them to implement an “idea”, empower them create livelihoods, secure a farmer rightful value for his toil, support the poor rise to secure basic meals on sustainable basis, help people available meaningful education for kids to grow into nation builder, help poor with Pucca house to live safely with his family, help elderly with a life of honor, provide confidence that every country man can realize his dreams to take this country forward and make the country free from “poverty” through equitable distribution of “opportunities”. Not “wealth”.

Banking can never be built on “charity & obligation” as it shall turn “un-sustainable & endanger the economy”. Off course the bank’s stakeholders and especially its customers have to work hard, to be honest, be literate to ensure that “Banks become vehicle” of change for Rural India that can without interruptions.  The Bank always needs be seen as a “Friend”, “Guide” and “Someone whom you can bank upon”.

“Banking System” cannot form backbone for economy unless it works as critical support system for “every individual citizen”, who are most integral part of the economy. The banking “cannot” be made dispassionate and “indifferent” to its customers especially when most of them are illiterate, are still to be brought in the fold of mainstream banking and have been using primitive ways to safeguard money by keeping them “below jute sacks, under pillows, below stack of clothes in a Almirah or in a cast iron box with 2 keys or turn them into jewels”. This is the money that truly gives them comfort & security, helps them in dire needs and most painful circumstances.

 

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

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www.manojrawat.com | @TheManojRawat | mkrawat@gmail.com

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