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Amid nationwide cash crunch after the sudden scrapping of high value currency by government, ICICI Bank today launched an initiative to deepen the reach of digital technologies in 100 villages in as many days. The initiative will focus on increasing access to banking by deploying tools like e-KYC and SMS or USSS-based services, train villagers for sustainable livelihoods and provide credit linkages to enhance livelihood opportunities. "Post-demonetisation, digitisation is the way to go and we want to give a special focus on the rural economy," Managing Director and Chief Executive Chanda Kochhar told reporters in a concall. Claiming this is the largest such programme in the country, Kochhar said the initiative is based on a template created by the largest private bank at Akodara village in Gujarat's Sabarkantha district where it has implemented the concept of a 'digital village'. Kochhar said a bulk of transactions in Akodara follow cashless mode now as the bank has selected to implement digital alternatives at the milk society, targeting the biggest local economic activity. This initiative aims to replicate that model by selecting predominant economic activity of every village, Kochhar added. She declined to share the costs to be incurred by the lender in rolling out the digitisation scheme. Kochhar also chose not to answer queries on impact of the disruptive demonetisation exercise on her bank. Customers are facing inconveniences at branches of all banks across the country following the Centre's surprise move on November 8 to scrap Rs 500/1000 notes to curb black money and fight graft.
Most of the ATMs have no cash to dispense. As part of the skilling which is a component of the initiative launched today, ICICI Bank will train 10,000 underprivileged villagers in vocational skills in 30-day modules, Kochhar said.
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