ET Financial Inclusion Summit: One growth account for all of India

India’s development priorities must have financial inclusion at its vanguard as New Delhi harnesses a raft of legacy and new-age resources, such as banks, insurers, phone companies and fintech platforms, to prevent pilferage in the delivery of federal welfare benefits and draw the marginalised in helping reach the collective goal of a $5-trillion economy.

“For a country of India’s size, population and the challenges we address, financial inclusion is not only desirable but also a developmental imperative,” Union housing and urban affairs minister Hardeep Puri said on Friday in his speech at the ET Financial Inclusion Summit.

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“This whole philosophy (of financial inclusion) is designed and operationalised to provide access to citizens, increase participation of stakeholders in government schemes and, in the process, reduce wasteful aspects like pilferage.”

“We are using the best of fintech to extend banking, credit, digital payment and insurance facilities to millions of citizens,” Puri told delegates at the summit meeting. “I believe something of this scale has never happened in any other part of the world.”

The ‘JAM trinity’ — Jan Dhan bank accounts, the Aadhaar platform and mobile phones — has helped achieve these social objectives, Puri said. “The government of India has used this ecosystem to provide direct cash support to more than 42 crore people totaling Rs 68,903 crore under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan package,” he added.

With about 700 million connections, India has the world’s largest base of broadband users. It has 696 million users of smartphones and the largest data usage per smartphone at 9.8 GB a month on average. Data usage and telecom penetration have changed India’s information economy, Puri said.

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