Champions of Financial Inclusion

Friday, April 23, 2010

Is UIDAI going to be a game changer across the financial inclusion landscape in India?

Reams have been written about UIDAI and I have heard even some clout bearing corporate honchos have offered unpaid “voluntary” services in addition to a bunch of the ivy league desis to make UIDAI a success- what else can a sarkari startup expect in India--- “combo techment” –a hybrid of technology and management plus Sarkari power ? Kudos to Nandan for his clarion call to the corporate biradari and surprisingly the tribe has responded wholeheartedly for the poor and un(der) banked in India.
What keeps me intriguing, other than the hyped hope of our garib janta and power it wields within policy echelons is: Will UIDAI be a game changer across the financial inclusion landscape in India? -- A tougher one , but if one goes by the UIDAI's own document From Exclusion to Inclusion with Micropayments , it seems UIDAI is planning to ride over at least two other big technologies in India, one is mobile telephony and second one is National Payments corporation of India (NPCI) – the national payment switch( in making). Suddenly this seems to be simple - Bank led model will prevail where mobile and biometric smart card technologies could be a pipe for pumping cash,subsidies,education vouchers and G2P benefits like MGREGA and NPCI will ensure interoperability, on the top of it UIDAI will solve the missing link of identity of all those who are out of national payments grid and thus face identity crisis in this huge country of 1.2 billion plus mankind. All this to enable safe, secure and omnipresent infrastructure of financial inclusion.
I don’t know what could be an appropriate answer to this, nothing stops me from dreaming high, but I am also well versed with some realities of mera gaon mera desh, where hard and soft infrastructure is still a challenge; It seems redundant to say it again but hurdles in micro banking still exist and just UIDAI may not be enough to hit the bulls eye. To make this a reality there is huge interdependence on sarkari tantra (Government machinery) , of which delays and red tapism are trusted hallmarks . This can damp passions and kill hope of our “garib as well as high end Volunteer junta”—I sincerely hope I am proved wrong in my skepticism.
I keenly look for your comments on this.

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