SBI Likabali is overburdened, and SBI ATM is in the ‘state of coma’. Financial inclusion is the buzzword of the time. But, in our newly created Lower Siang District- still, opening an account, getting a passbook, withdrawal, deposit and applying (not even getting) for an ATM card itself is like a long and a tedious war. One can see people coming out (with a complacent smile) like a ‘war hero’ on being able to get the basic service done (for the day). If this is the situation in the Likabali, a well-connected hub of the district, one can imagine about the plights of people living in the interiors of the district.
Recently, a request was made to repair and renovate the ATM, which is a much-needed step. However, the plight of the service seekers will not end here. It is imperative that instead of relying solely on SBI, we should diversify our banking services by inviting other banks to open branches in the district. In this regard, District Administration should send request letters to various other banks, and allow the interested party to open bank within the district. On the part of the existing SBI and APRB, they should organise Financial literacy campaign (which is a mandate) to encourage people to use internet banking and other digital services to reduce the burden.
With regards to the interior areas, banking services may be provided through ‘Banking Correspondents (BCs’). BCs can help the people of the interior areas in accessing the financial services, of which they were hitherto devoid of. In addition, this would also provide employment for the local unemployed youths. District Administration along with the Bank Officials should look for viable BC model wherever possible. In the long run, as the district grows the demand for banking and other financial services are bound to increase exponentially- so, why to wait for the crisis?