January 2, 2013 -
Andhra Pradesh Grameena Vikas Bank, a regional rural bank sponsored by the State Bank of India, has opened 105 of what the company is calling “ultra small branches” (USBs) in the Indian state, Business Standard reports.
Deployed based on Reserve Bank of India and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development guidelines, these USBs essentially consist of a handheld biometric device to authenticate users and are operating in rural villages with a population of 2,000 and above.
According to the company, more than 89,000 accounts have already been opened in these USBs and the bank is planning to open another 60,000 accounts by March 2013.
Over the past year, the bank has worked to educate India’s rural poor by organizing financial literacy awareness camps and plans to turn these USBs into physical branches once adoption catches on and the company reaches a critical mass of participation. According to the Business Standard report, the bank is eyeing to convert around 50 percent of the USBs into brick and mortar locations within six months.
Grameena Vikas Bank is carving out a new niche, offering portable handheld bank “branches,” but biometrics in the banking sector is nothing new. As reported previously in BiometricUpdate.com, Belfius, a major bank in Belgium, has recently become the first bank to use the Belgian eID for its online services.
Also, a recent academic research report authored by two Iranian researchers explores the use of biometric technologies in the banking sector and recommends a feasible model for Iran.