Vodafone Essar has teamed with ICICI Bank, India’s largest private bank, to deliver mobile banking services to un- and under-banked consumers in the country.
The pair will offer savings accounts, pre-paid and credit products through Vodafone’s mobile network in a bid to meet government goals regarding growing access to banking services for all citizens.
ICICI chief Chandar Kochhar, says Vodafone’s Indian network will help the pair market services to rural customers who might otherwise be overlooked.
“Mobile penetration is growing exponentially in the country of which the rural market forms a major contributor. There is a huge potential for offering mobile banking in these regions, which will facilitate access to the financially excluded parts of the society,” she states.
Vodafone’s 1.5 million retail customer acquisition points will be used to pick up fresh customers beyond the carrier’s 120 million Indian subscribers.
The carrier already has strong experience in the mobile banking world, gathering 20 million users globally on its M-PESA payment service so far.
India’s government has placed financial inclusion high on a list of services it considers vital to bringing the benefits of the country’s economic growth to all citizens.
ICICI’s deal with Vodafone was made possible by a change in banking rules that allows banks to appoint for-profit firms as Business Correspondents, which were implemented by the Reserve Bank of India to help meet the government’s aims.
Marten Pieters, Vodafone Essar CEO, said the RBI’s decision would open the door to banking services for all, adding that the carrier is “uniquely positioned to aid the financial inclusion agenda of the government.”
Analysys Mason recently predicted that increased mobile broadband penetration in India could drive mobile banking revenues 67% to 205 billion rupees (€3.4 billion) by 2015.