scorecardICICI Bank to transform 100 villages into ‘Digital Villages’ in 100 days
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ICICI Bank to transform 100 villages into ‘Digital Villages’ in 100 days

Can you imagine turning one Indian village digital every day? ICICI Bank claims it will do it.

ICICI Bank, today announced that it will transform 100 villages into Digital Villages through a number of measures.

These villages will enable villagers to use digital channels for banking and payments transactions. There, villagers will be able to open bank accounts using Aadhar-based e-KYC and make cashless payments to retail stores through a unique SMS/USSD-based mobile solution.

Additionally, ICICI Bank in association with ICICI Foundation will impart vocational training to nearly 10,000 underprivileged villagers, especially women, to help them earn a sustainable livelihood. The bank will also extend credit facilities to the trained villagers in a bid to boost self-employment opportunities in the villages.

This ambitious move is inspired by the success of India’s first digital village, created by ICICI Bank at Akodara in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat.
Ms. Chanda Kochhar, MD & CEO, ICICI Bank said , “We strongly feel that technology can play an important role in putting development on a fast lane.”

The bank will create a cashless ecosystem at these villages, provide vocational training to 10,000 villagers in first 100 days and offer them credit linkages so that the villagers can start their own business ventures.

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ICICI Bank will use tablet-based banking and Aadhar-based e-KYC to help villagers open accounts in few hours without submitting physical documents. All adults in the villages will have saving accounts, which will be linked to Aadhar to enable direct transfer of government benefits into these accounts. There will be dedicated branch and ATM of ICICI Bank to service these accounts.

The bank will provide a unique SMS & USSD based mobile service which will facilitate the villagers to transfer funds, receive alerts & statements and make payments to retail stores by using their mobile phones. This SMS banking will be available in regional languages and will function on basic mobile phones. The Bank will also set up end-to-end merchant infrastructure that will enable the retailers at the village to accept mobile based payments.

The bank will also create a cashless, digital payment ecosystem for the predominant commercial activity of these villages and set up Point-of-Sale (POS) machines at seed and fertilizer outlets for cashless transactions using Rupay cards.

All this is being done in the wake of demonetization when the country's villages are suffering the most. As someone who saw how Akodara's citizens were reaping benefits from the digitization, this move is not only lauded but necessary right now.