75 districts to get digital banking units by July: Indian Banks’ Association

All state-run banks, 10 private-sector banks and one small finance bank have started work to operationalise 75 digital banking units (DBUs) by July 2022, the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) said on Thursday.

State Bank of India will set up the highest number of DBUs (12), followed by Punjab National Bank and Union Bank of India (8 each), Bank of Baroda (7), Canara Bank (6) and India Bank (3). Among private lenders, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank will establish three DBUs each and HDFC Bank two DBUs, according to the IBA.

The move is in sync with finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s latest Budget announcement to set up these units in 75 districts to commemorate the 75 years of India’s independence.

The progress in the pilot implementation is being monitored by a committee of the Reserve Bank of India, the IBA said in a statement.

DBUs will be treated as banking outlets and each unit needs to be housed distinctly, with separate entry and exit provisions, the IBA said. Each DBU has to offer certain minimum digital banking products and services, both on the asset (loan) and liabilities (deposits) side.

The banks will have the option to engage digital business facilitators/ business correspondents in sync with relevant regulations to expand the virtual footprint of DBUs.

“Also, there shall be adequate digital mechanism to offer real-time assistance and redress customer grievances arising from business and services offered by the DBUs directly or through business facilitators/correspondents,” the IBA said.

A panel for establishment of the DBUs was set up under Ajay Kumar Choudhary, executive director, fintech department of the RBI, with representation of senior officials from the central bank, select banks and IBA. A working group under IBA chief executive Sunil Mehta and select banks was constituted to assist the committee.

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