One of India’s largest public sector banks is subscribing to the Indian government’s initiative to increase awareness and accelerate the adoption of digital payments in the country.
Bank of Baroda, an Indian public sector bank headquartered in Vadodara, Gujarat, has confirmed that it is observing the ‘Digital Payments Utsav: Digital Payments se Pragati ko Gati‘, an initiative established by the Indian government to deliver digital payment services to the country’s hardest-to-reach regions.
The bank’s participation in the initiative includes two new product launches, a financial education drive across select branches in India and the commendation of its digital banking services by the ministry. The government of India owns the majority stake in the bank, with 63.97 per cent ownership.
As evidenced in this JCB report, India’s digital economy is coming back stronger and more dynamic than ever following the global pandemic, and with such initiatives in place with backing from the country’s financial sector, the future of fintech continues to climb to new heights.
‘Digital Payments Utsav’
Incorporated on 9 February by Ashwini Vaishnaw, the Indian minister for electronics and information technology, communications and railways and led by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), Digital Payments Utsav mobilises a campaign to promote digital payments and the evolution of India’s digital services.
A series of events will follow the launch of the initiative, taking place between 9 February and 9 October 2023, to ensure the delivery of its goals. One of these goals is to roll out a digital credit system this year.
The campaign is specifically focused on delivering payment technology to areas of India with the least penetration of digital services, notably within the cities of Lucknow, Pune, Hyderabad and Bengaluru.
With this, the NPCI has completed preliminary steps towards extending the international connectivity of the Indian payment network, forming partnerships with countries including Nepal, Bhutan and the United Kingdom.
Equally, the view of expanding the reach of the unified payment interface (UPI) within its own borders and beyond is clear, followed by the confirmation that India’s UPI services are becoming available to non-resident Indians in 10 countries across the world, including Australia, the United States, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia.
Taking the initiative
In its observation of the minister’s newly-announced initiative, Bank of Baroda is organising a ‘special drive’ wherein a branded vehicle will display educational videos on digital payments with the aim of increasing awareness among the public around the use of digital payments.
However, it remains unclear as to what elements of digital payments these videos will address, and although it does hold the honest intention to inform underserved members of the community of the significance of financial inclusion, the bank does risk the videos being wrongly perceived as advertisements for its own services if the content is not meticulously curated.
Pessimism aside, this initiative will ultimately succeed in advocating for financial services for all and forms a key link in the bank’s longstanding efforts to deliver this message. Vaishnaw recently awarded the bank top positions in overall digital payment performance and transaction volume, providing evidence of its success.
Joydeep Dutta Roy, the bank’s executive director, described its alignment with the initiative as an opportunity to “increase the awareness and understanding” of the bank’s digital payment services, “communicate the convenience that these provide” and “encourage maximum citizen engagement.”
“This is also an opportunity to explain to and alert people about safe banking habits and how by taking some simple precautions we can all enjoy a safe and secure digital banking experience,” adds Roy.
The bank’s most recent announcement also confirmed the arrival of two new products, including a prepaid gift card on a keychain with G20 branding to mark India’s presidency of the G20, and its Agniveer debit card.
The bank designed the latter offering specifically for Agniveers recruited under the Agnipath scheme. It includes no-fee accidental insurance coverage, unlimited ATM usage across all bank ATMs in the country and two complimentary domestic airport lounge visits per quarter.
The bank launched the ‘Bank of Baroda Rashtrabhasha Samman’ award in January to encourage and promote literary works in Indian languages. Additionally, the State Forum of Bankers’ Clubs Kerala (SFBCK) named it the ‘Best Bank’ in the large public sector banks category last month based on its performance throughout the financial year 2021 to 2022.