Economics · Governance · Law · Public Policy

The Cashless, Comprehensive and Connected Digital Village by ICICI Bank

The ICICI group in celebration of its 60 years of partnering with India in its progress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the ‘ICICI Digital Village’ to the nation at an event on 2nd January, 2015. The ICICI bank announced in the event that it has created the ‘ICICI Digital Village’ at Akodara in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat for the villagers to enable them to use technology in various aspects of life which comprises banking, payments, education and healthcare among others. Here, financial transactions are cashless, text books are paperless, children read books on LED monitors and Tabs, patients can avail the facility of telemedicine and Wi-Fi connectivity is available across the village.

Ms. Chanda Kochhar, Managing Director & CEO, ICICI Bank said,

“We are proud to have converted Akodara in Gujarat from a village into a digital village. Our objective has been to show that technology can be used to eliminate barriers that separate rural and urban India. We hope that it will catalyze similar initiatives across the country and recreate rural India.”

As presented by Kochhar Prime Minister Narendra Modi has articulated India’s Promotion by three Ds: Demand, Democracy and Demographic dividend, the ICICI bank’s concept of digital village revolves around three Cs : Cashless, Connected and Comprehensive.

Cashless: Because the bank has created a fully cashless digital payment ecosystem across various points in the village such as village shops, the mandi for sale of agro-produce and the cooperative society for the sale of milk.

Connected: There is a high-speed broadband connectivity throughout the village through a Wi-Fi tower, terminal for display of prices of agro-commodities, a village website and a Facebook page.

Comprehensive: It covers many areas of daily life, digitization of school records, implementation of a school management software, smart devices and boards in the classrooms, Audio visual curriculum of the Gujrat board in Gujrati language, video based educational content in Anganwadis, telemedicine and skill development.

The Digital village has three aspects in its initiative, the first one is to improve banking access and deliver seamless services in banking. All adults in the village have a savings account for which the bank has established the pioneering tab banking technology, the tab banking technology enables customers to open a savings account without submitting physical documents. The account are then serviced by a dedicated ICICI bank branch and an ATM. For the direct transfer of government benefits into the savings accounts the village’s accounts are liked to Aadhar. For statements, alerts, remittances ad fund transfers on the mobile phone the bank will provide technology enabled banking services to the villagers. A cashless, digital payment network is being created by the bank for the village. There is an end-to-end payment solution leveraging Rupay cards and SMS banking at the village shops, for sale of agro-produce at the mandi and for the sale of milk at the cooperative society the villagers are not required to take coupons instead the money is directly credited to the respective account according to the fat content in the milk. The APMC mandi at Himmatnagar, the district headquarters, will be the first cashless mandi in Gujarat.

The second aspect of the initiative is to leverage technology in the social sectors for upgrading lives of the villagers. The Bank at the school is digitalizing school records and attendance, and executing a school management software in the village school. Smart boards are being provided, integrating projectors and computer at the school and the anganwadi, with audio-visual digital content for classes 1- 10. This will provide digital access to telemedicine through mobile or video conference, which will give the villagers access to medical expertise. Through the ICICI Academy for skills the bank will bring skill development programme to the village. Women are thought skills to stand on their own in their future.

The third aspect of the initiative is to create organization to make technology available, and access and broadcast information. High speed broadband connectivity throughout the village via Wi-Fi using a Wi-Fi tower.  Farmers will be able to access the latest information on prices of agricultural commodities on NCDEX. A village website will be created and a water treatment plant to establish to provide clean water to the villagers.

Kochhar said the digital village has three themes – cashless, comprehensive and connected. The bank has opened 2 crore financial inclusion accounts in the past four years and would keep contributing to the nation’s development, the ICICI bank has mirrored the changes in the Indian economy and has always acted as a catalyst for positive change to give more strength to the country and to its citizen. The institution has never forgotten that it has been established for the development of the country. The ethos continues to be the foundation of all of the bank’s activities.

Later, Modi dedicated the ‘ICICI Digital Village’ to the nation in presence of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao and state Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, among others. The bank said that the village will allow everyone there to use technology in various aspects of life including banking, payments, education and healthcare among others.

ICICI’s aim in this project has been that technology can be used to remove barriers rural and urban areas, to realize the vision of a rural India that is not rural but “rurban”: villages were residents can access modern services like their urban counterparts. This is of course one attempt by one organization but it is hoped that this initiative can catalyze many such initiative across the country and make the dream of digital India a reality.

This is not the first time the ICICI bank has played for the development of the country, the bank has dedicated its work towards the development of infrastructure in India over the last two decades. BY financing for substantial power generation capacity, which includes India’s largest private sector hydra power project, ports, roads and highways, airports, including India’s first greenfield airport and its largest airport modernisation project, and the rollout of pan-India telecom networks. As a financer its role has gone beyond that and has assisted the government in the development of policies for the sector.

ICICI Group completed 60 years on January 5, 2015.

Today, ICICI Bank is the largest private sector bank with consolidated total assets of $124.76 billion as on March 31, 2014. Its subsidiaries include country’s leading private sector insurance companies and among its largest securities brokerage firms, mutual funds and private equity firms. It is present across 18 countries, including India.

Sources: Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi dedicates ICICI Digital Village to the nation

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About the Author

Derick HaokipDerick Haokip is currently pursuing his II year in B.A. LLB.(Hons.) from Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law Punjab, Patiala. He has travelled across the country and changed numerous schools and hopes to travel the world after he completes his studies. He enjoys writing on legal matters and various themes of contemporary concern. He also has a creative artistic trait in him. He has interned with various NGOs and advocates and is currently interning with Model Governance Foundation.

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