RBI assessment of financial inclusion efforts shows improvement

Reserve Bank of IndiaThe Reserve Bank of India released an assessment on Tuesday of the country’s efforts to promote financial inclusion, showing that while banking services are available to just over half of the population, the availability of banking services has risen substantially.

In 2001, only 35.5 percent of the Indian population had access to banking services. As a result of increased banking services in rural areas, however, the availability of banking services increased to reach 58.7 percent of households in 2011.

The RBI has taken a number of initiatives aimed at improving financial inclusion, adopting a bank-led model. The number of branches of commercial banks has risen substantially since 2006.

In March 2006, there were 30,572 rural bank branches, 15,274 semi-urban bank branches, 11,864 urban bank branches and 10,971 metropolitan banks. In March 2013, however, the number of rural bank branches had risen to 37,953, semi-urban branches to 27,219, urban branches to 19,327 and metropolitan branches to 17,844.

Banking services have also become more available to villages. In March 2010, the number of banking outlets in villages totaled 67, 694, rising to 268,454 by March 2013. The number of accounts opened rose from 73.5 million in March 2010 to 182.1 million in March 2013.

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