MUMBAI: IDFC Bank plans to build a network of more than one lakh points-of-presence in the next two years to enable people in the farthest corners of the country to transact digitally, a move that comes amid the government’s digitisation drive.
The Mumbai-based private lender plans to set up 30,000 micro ATMs and 75,000 Aadhaar Pay merchant points as part of its plan. While the micro ATMs function as a bank-in-a-box, most of the Aadhaar Pay merchants will be converted into business correspondents and will deliver basic financial services.
“We are creating an ecosystem that will transform the digital payment landscape,” said Rajiv Lall, managing director of IDFC Bank. “It will digitise transactions across all retail customer segments – those with a smartphone but new-to-digital, the feature phone and phone-less population. We will do this by deploying micro ATMs, establishing e-PDS and Aadhaar Pay merchant points, through fintech partnerships and acquisitions.”
The plan envisages coverage of 250,000 villages across 300 districts to serve nearly one crore customers, according to Lall. The bank currently has about 7,000 points-of-presence, including branches, ATMs, micro ATMs, e-PDS outlets, Aadhaar Pay merchant points and the network of Grama Vidiyal Microfinance, the company it had acquired last year.
The 30,000 micro ATMs will be installed in rural and unbanked locations and will be placed at fair price shops and panchayat offices, among others. The bank currently operates in 19 states spanning 20 cities, 60 districts and 40,000 villages.
In the pilot phase spanning three months, more than 1,500 merchants across 16 states have enabled digital transactions for customers of all banks, using IDFC Aadhaar Pay on their smartphones. The bank now plans to expand this network to 25 states. The bank also plans to convert most of these agents into a full-fledged banking service point armed with a micro ATM.
Aadhaar Pay, which addresses the needs of the phone-less, enables users to transact digitally for small value payments free of cost.
IDFC Bank is the only bank in the country at present that allows smartphone users or customers using its micro ATM to open a savings account and a fixed deposit account using a completely digital process that requires no paperwork and takes under four minutes.