Financial inclusion is one of the core pieces of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of Digital India. In order to boost financial inclusion, the focus has been on Jan Dhan Account and Aadhar cards programs.
However, despite the launch of affordable financial products such as a pension scheme named Atal PensionYojana (APY) and even after the huge success in the enrollment of Jan Dhan Accounts and Aadhar Card, the penetration of financial products in India is extremely low.
This points to the limitations in the bank-led model of financial inclusion both in terms of access and its ability to serve the common man. One the biggest barrier to financial inclusion is the common man’s struggle to cut the jargons and communicate in the language that they use.
Only about 10 per cent of Indians are comfortable with English, which is a major language of communication at banks. Further, even English only fintech startups, which are doing a great job in making the process painless and jargon-free, could only cater to the 43% of internet user base.
Therefore, in the true sense, we are still quite far from financial inclusion and democratisation of financial services.
In the context of cutting through the financial jargon and bridging the communication barrier, the fintech startups have one thing that banks don't - an ability to personalise the service and cater to each customer uniquely. While banks will struggle to serve customers in 3 different languages, a fintech startup can serve customers in different languages without any huge investments.
And it is with this vision, that we at Sqrrl are launching our mobile app in 8 different languages, with the sole aim of personalising the experience and empowering people who are not comfortable with English, and to help them become masters of their own money.
Vernacular fintech apps have the power to provide an access to financial services to these users in an underserved market, in a language that the users choose. Besides, expanding the scope of financial services to migrant and underserved segment in Metro and Tier-1 cities, the biggest impact of these apps will be in tier-2 and tier-3 cities, where language is one of the biggest barriers to financial independence.
However, it needs to be pointed out that this is just a start. Only the availability of app in different languages will not solve the problems. The kind of communication for a person staying in Patna will be way different from a person staying in Ludhiana. The apps need dejargonize the communication in the financial world and customise the experience according to local culture.
But in India’s quest to bring about true financial inclusion, we believe this is a great first step....