ICICI Bank & Vodafone Essar ink pact for financial inclusion

icici-bank-vodafone ICICI Bank Ltd, India’s largest private sector Bank and Vodafone Essar Ltd today announced a joint initiative to drive financial inclusion in the country. Under this tie-up, both entities will offer a bouquet of financial products such as savings accounts, pre-paid instruments and credit products through a mobile phone based platform.

This partnership is expected to bring the un-banked and under-banked population into the organised financial services framework and assist in furthering the electronic payments market in India. ICICI Bank will leverage the distribution strength of Vodafone, which manages over 1.5 million retail points for acquiring customers and servicing them.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has over the past few years come out with various measures to facilitate banks to achieve the financial inclusion agenda. RBI has allowed banks to appoint for-profit’ companies as Business Correspondents (BCs). This tie-up between ICICI Bank and Vodafone is a step in that direction.

The Indian government has been actively pursuing the agenda for inclusive growth to ensure that benefits of the exponential growth phase reach all the sections of the society. To this effect, financial inclusion has been an important goal that aims to provide access to basic financial services to each and every individual across the country. Such access is essential to initiate growth in the hitherto un-banked sections of the society, eventually resulting in improvement in the per capita household income and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.

Speaking on the alliance, Ms. Chanda Kochhar, Managing Director & CEO, ICICI Bank Ltd said, “We are very excited about the partnership with Vodafone, which will help ICICI Bank in deepening its base within the country. 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 and ensure that benefits from various welfare and growth programs of the government reach them along with other financial services and products. Vodafone, with its innovative and customer focus initiatives, is an ideal partner who will help in furthering the cause of financial inclusion in India”.

Mr. Marten Pieters, Managing Director & CEO, Vodafone Essar, commented “the RBI move to allow for-profit companies to be Business Correspondents is a welcome move that will enable the population better access to financial services. With our reach and ability to connect to customers, we are uniquely positioned to aid the financial inclusion agenda of the Government of India and RBI. We are pleased to work with ICICI Bank, which has always strived to offer innovative products to its customers.”

Both parties will work out the specific arrangements in the coming few weeks and chart out a go-to-market plan.