Make 30% bank biz agents women: SBI

MUMBAI: A report from the State Bank of India (SBI) has called for mandating that 30% of the business correspondent (BC) workforce comprise women. According to the report, while the majority of the Jan Dhan Yojana accounts (55%) belong to women, the usage of these lags those of men and remain inoperative most of the time.
“Participation of women as BC agents needs a strong push as the BC network is disproportionately dominated by men owing to a host of issues, attributed to socio-economic factors, limited mobility, lopsided selection process and educational background realities in select pockets of our country,” said the report, authored by SBI Group chief economist Soumya Kanti Ghosh.

BCs or Bank Mitras, as they are called, act as agents of the bank and provide basic services like deposits, withdrawals and fund transfers for a commission from the bank. Listing the benefits that women BCs would bring, the report said that female agents are less susceptible to malpractices and less prone to commit fraudulent acts. “Because socio-economic barriers hinder other alternatives of paid work, this ensures that they remain more committed,” the report said. Their participation would also deepen financial inclusion and they would encourage other women to participate in financial transactions.
At present, women agents comprise less than 10% of the BC workforce. The problem is more accentuated in northern, eastern and central states. The southern states fare better on this parameter, reflecting the better digital literacy proliferating to the bottom of the pyramid now being leveraged at grassroots level.

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