The ambitious plan of the government to achieve financial inclusion for all has taken a step closer to its target with 98.4 per cent household in India having bank accounts. Under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna, unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 28 August last year, 26 January was set as the deadline to open 75 million bank accounts. The target was later revised to 100 million.
“In the last three months, 103 million new accounts have been opened under the Jan Dhan Yojana. By now, 98.41 per cent households in the country are covered under the scheme,” said Hasmukh Adhia, secretary, department of financial services.
Banks managed to achieve the stiff target of opening 100 million bank accounts a month before the deadline of 26 January.
Adhia said banks had conducted a survey of 219 million household. Of these, 98.4 per cent respondents said they have a bank account. According to the last census, there are 250 million households in the country. “There are 3 crore to 4 crore (30 million to 40 million) who are from the effluent sections of the society declined to take part in the survey,” Adhia said. Adhia added that RuPay cards have been issued to 79.7 per cent of the accounts. The government is also working on seeding the Aadhaar number with the bank accounts; 33 per cent of the accounts have already been synced with the Aadhaar numbers. At present, it is not mandatory for accounts to be seeded with Aadhaar for direct benefit transfers (DBT). But the banks have been advised to do so to make DBT transfers easy.
However, a majority of accounts are still inactive with zero balance, and it is a big challenge for the banks to mobilise savings in these accounts.
“We will be deliberating on how to keep the accounts active. We will have to see how to mobilise savings rate from 30 per cent currently to 35 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). We will also have to see how to use these accounts for DBT, pension distribution and other benefits,” added Adhia.
To deepen financial inclusion now, the finance ministry will be getting into an “open challenge mode” for opening accounts under the Jan Dhan scheme.
This will be announced once the 100 per cent target is achieved. “Under this, anyone who does not have an account can approach a bank and an account will be opened immediately,” said Adhia.