FSS (Financial Software and Systems)), a globally leading provider of integrated payment products and a payments processor, and CSB Bank, one of the oldest private sector banks in India, have joined forces to deliver hyperlocal banking services to financially underserved segments. Under the aegis of this partnership, CSB Bank and FSS plan to open 1,000 Smart Cash franchisees in semi-urban and rural areas across India to expand financial services adoption among underserved segments.
Financial development has long been identified as a crucial accelerator for economic growth, as it increases the level of aggregate savings, investment, and employment. India is one of the fastest growing financial economies in the world. Several initiatives by the Government of India including the India Stack and the Jan Dhan schemes have facilitated greater financial inclusion in the country. Today the number of Jan Dhan accounts – approximate 440 million in the country. But many of these accounts are dormant. Smart Cash aims to address this challenge.
To bridge infrastructure gaps at the last mile and fast-track growth, Smart Cash will operate on a franchise model. With a vision of “Empowering a Billion Lives” by offering financial services, franchisees would be onboarded with a one-time fee and conform with Smart Cash’s business and operational guidelines for delivering a uniform services experience to customers.
Modelled on a Branch-in-a-Box service concept, Smart Cash franchisees, equipped with a kiosk or a Micro-ATM device, would offer affordable banking, investment, credit, and insurance products to target segments. The Smart Cash franchisees would function as a one-stop shop for products offered by CSB Bank as well as third party partner products – utility payments and domestic money transfers – improving commercial viability of the service for Smart Cash franchisees.
Powered by FSS eFinclusiv (AePS) at the backend, Smart Cash franchisees will extend interoperable banking services to customers of any bank. Customers, irrespective of the bank they hold an account, can walk into any Smart Cash franchisee to access services – using biometric verification and a social ID card (Aadhaar) linked to a bank account or through a debit card and associate PIN.
Commenting on the partnership, Narendra Dixit, Head- Retail Banking, CSB Bank said; “An approximate 800M Indians primarily live in a cash economy, and equitable access to digital financial services can bring prodigious benefits to people, businesses and the economy. Our vision is to build a universally available ecosystem for digital transactions to strengthen the financial capability of target segments. Our partnership with FSS provides us the right technology foundation to rapidly scale quality access, bring relevant products to the market and create more convenience for the customer.”
Speaking on the collaboration, V Balasubramanian, President FSS, stated; “For three decades, FSS has been at the forefront of India’s digital revolution by developing enabling payments infrastructure that connects people to financial services at scale. Even as account ownership is now universal in India, progress on savings, credit, and insurance is slow, limiting the usefulness of these accounts. We are delighted to partner with CSB Bank to further scale access to mainstream financial tools and products, empowering underbanked consumers to enjoy the benefits of India’s modernizing digital economy.”
At the backend, the technology infrastructure needed to process transactions must be scalable and extensible. The service is powered by FSS eFinclusiv (AePS) platform that processes transactions originating at Smart Cash franchisees. The platform is hosted on FSSNeT, FSS secure private cloud, with FSS assuming responsibility for service uptime, terminal management and monitoring, service upgrades, security, and compliance with regulatory mandates. An As-a-Service model provides a cost-efficient pathway to CSB Bank to rapidly scale and bring new innovations to the market by eliminating capital expense associated with in-house technology models.