Bollywood,Cricket and Financial Inclusion: "Business Correspondent Model - Facebooking the excluded in India"

By Jatinder Handoo

Microfinance Focus, May 3, 2012: "Financial Inclusion is not satisfactory" was a flashing headline in some prominent pink  papers last week. This is  a genuine concern  which gets echoed in many  public policy  and business platforms quite often. An important question which  emanates from this concern is: What makes things work in India? What makes them scale up and happen satisfactorily as might be needed in case of financial inclusion.

To understand this question better, let us ask ourselves two quick questions - What brings people of India together and connects them across all odds?  What is that fills the nation with awe and pride and brims up even the weakest and last one in the queue with confidence of victory every single time the Indian cricket team wins or a bollywood hero smashes baddies on silver screen?

Should not (hopefully) be a difficult one for kolaveri di generation to guess: two forces     remain common be it cricket or bollywood (and definitely true for financial inclusion) -   "Passion and Hope" - Passion works wonders and Hope quadruples human efforts .

"Financial Inclusion looks too much sarkari," it lacks that punch, it is not appealing -says a prominent social media expert. No flash mobs, no colorful balloons, no inclusion marathons. Is an effective communication strategy missing here? What about institutional face of financial inclusion?

Before we jump the barrel, let us keep our ears close to the reality and  realize - both cricket and the bollywood  have been driven led by individual faces who have been symbols of passion and hope in the country of 1.2 billion people (out of which just 35.2 percent  have a formal bank account says the World Bank  FIndex 2012) .

A corollary to bollywood in financial inclusion is Business Correspondent (BC) model     propounded by the RBI in 2006, since then, the model has played an effective role play in terms of making financial inclusion a reality. As  per a prominent weekly publication, as on March 31st, 2012 here are about 1,25,000 BCs (targeted) engaged by various banks in India which serve 1,97,000 villages(targeted) in India. This signifies alone potential, depth and breadth of the model. However, in spite of innovation in the delivery model there arise concerns about the scale of financial inclusion.

If anything seems missing in the financial inclusion value chain, it is an effective communication design not symbols or faces. In Indian hinterland, FINO – the world's largest banking agent manager (BC) symbolizes hope and pride of financial inclusion.  It has facebooked more than 46 million previously unbanked and underbanked women and men in India by connecting them with formal financial system. It facebooks  on an average one million new un(der) banked poor and vulnerable masses with the mainstream banking system every month. The FINO system also handles more than 4.5 million banking transactions on monthly basis inspite of systemic blockages. Bharat is still far from hi-speed broadband and  flashy gizmos. Thankfully, for FINO - a humanware of around 27,000 agents connects last mile consumers with banks through an electronic ICT based biometric smart card and Point of transaction based architecture. This happens primarily through FINO's  doorstep  delivery model of financial inclusion.

Missing communication could be function of suppliers' side obsession of technology architectures, product designs, market impatience and mobiles phones and too less focus on passion part which rekindles demand side hope. Is there a need to design and    implement an   effective communication strategy for inclusion? Just like public   programmes did in social sector like family planning, immunization, basic literacy etc.

This is exactly what successful format of cricket and bollywood have done. Be it a youtubeisation  of Kolaveri Di  or cheerleader trend in T-20  cricket. Both have mastered in the art of effective communication and building excitement whereas financial institutions in India seems to have  lagged  on this count.

Financial Inclusion is a public policy priority in India, If that stands valid, why doesn't    common woman (and man) on streets gossip about it?, Why doesn't it fill suppliers of financial services with exuberance and passion and users with hope? Why haven’t we ever seen an inclusion flashmob in the financial district of South Mumbai or an inclusion parade in the political capital of India?

Let us deliberate upon the manner in which financial inclusion has been communicated so far and innovations in communication strategy which could provide level effect to financial inclusion to take it to the next level. Financial literacy seems to be one of the many communication strategies for end customers, but there are much learnings which supply side financial sector players can look at - be it bollywood or cricket in India.

Disclaimer : Jatinder is a financial inclusion practitioner and currently working with FINO.  The blog  reflects personal views & opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent FINO's views. Author could be contacted  at  and e-mail:

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Financial Inclusion

The comparison of Financial Inclusion success with the short term success of Kolaveri Di or T20 format (both are entertainment based) is meaningless. I have to express this as a person involved in rural banking and technology banking for over 4 decades till date of Financial Inclusion, I have to express my views. The reason for apparent failure of financial inclusion is the half hearted, non committed and non holistic approach of many stake holders and some greediness involved in the stake holders mind and not the 100% commitment for the cause.

Should any one India wants a format which can be successful and see the light of the day can get in touch with me at

It will be my pleasure to share and be a part of the movement to ensure success of financial inclusion.

Let us look for bright days ahead for inclusive growth.

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