Sitharaman launches doorstep banking initiative by public sector banks

Nirmala Sitharaman

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday launched a doorstep banking services initiative by public sector banks (PSBs) which will provide convenience to customers.

This is part of EASE (enhanced access and service excellence) reforms that the Department of Financial Services had undertaken in 2018.

Now, one can bank from home with the finance minister launching the doorstep service initiative of PSBs, Financial Services Secretary Debasish Panda said.

Customer convenience and comfort will be the top priority in the entire process, he added.

Asserting that EASE reforms have resulted in improving various financial parameters of PSBs, Panda said there has been a six-fold increase in the number of profitable lenders in the last two years.

Recalling the hassle-free transfer of money under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat package and Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, he said despite the COVID-19 lockdown there was seamless fund transfer in accounts of crores of beneficiaries.

As part of the EASE reforms, the doorstep banking initiative is envisaged to provide convenience of banking services to customers at their doorstep through the universal touch points of call centre, web portal or mobile app, the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

The services will be rendered by the doorstep banking agents deployed by the selected service providers at 100 centres across the country, it said.

At present only non-financial services like pick up of negotiable instruments (cheque/demand draft/pay order etc), pick up of 15G / 15H forms, pick up of IT/GST challan, request for account statement, delivery of term deposit receipt, among others, are available to customers.

Financial services shall be made available from October 2020, it said, adding the services can be availed by customers of PSBs at nominal charges.

The services shall benefit all customers, particularly senior citizens and divyangs (differently-abled), it added.

With regard to performance of PSBs on EASE 2.0 Index, it said they have shown a healthy trajectory in their performance over four quarters.

The overall score of PSBs increased by 37 per cent between March 2019 and March 2020, with the average EASE index score improving from 49.2 to 67.4 out of 100, it said.

The index measures the performance of each PSB on 120-plus objective metrics across six themes.

Significant progress is seen across six themes of the reforms agenda, it said, with the highest improvement seen in the themes of 'Responsible Banking', 'Governance and HR', 'PSBs as Udyamimitra for MSMEs', and 'Credit off-take'.

A common reform agenda for PSBs, EASE Agenda is aimed at institutionalising clean and smart banking.

It was launched in January 2018, and the subsequent edition of the program -- EASE 2.0 built on the foundation laid in EASE 1.0 and furthered the progress on reforms.

Reform Action Points in EASE 2.0 are aimed at making the reforms journey irreversible, strengthening processes and systems, and driving outcomes.

PSBs have massively stepped up to support the nation during the COVID-19 crisis, the statement said.

"From different modes of staffing to remote working, 80,000+ bank branches were operational during COVID-19.

"Additionally, there has been 90 per cent uptime of self-service machines during the COVID times and around three times increase in Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS) transactions through micro ATMs, and enhanced doorstep banking support by 75,000+Bank Mitras," it said.

To further support the customers in these times, the banks have drastically increased the number of services being offered at the call centres, from 11 in March-19 to 23 as of June-20 in 13 regional languages, it said.

On the way forward for PSBs, it said a comprehensive agenda for smart, tech-enabled banking has been adopted for 2020-21.

Under this, PSBs have initiated 'eShishu Mudra' for straight-through processing of loans to micro-enterprises and digital personal loan for customers.

PSBs have started providing customer-need driven credit offers through analytics and partnerships with FinTechs and e-commerce companies, it said.

"Many PSBs have already started taking steps in line with the reform priorities. Progress of PSBs will continue to be tracked on metrics linked to Reform Action Points, and their progress will be published through a quarterly index," it said.

Bank of Baroda, State Bank of India, and erstwhile Oriental Bank of Commerce were felicitated for being the top three in the 'Top Performing Banks' category according to the EASE 2.0 Index results.

Bank of Maharashtra, Central Bank of India and erstwhile Corporation Bank were awarded in the 'Top Improvers' category.

Punjab National Bank, Union Bank of India and Canara Bank were also recognised for outstanding performance in select themes, it added.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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