In a notable step for financial inclusion via payments banks, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has reportedly tied up with India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) to train postmen to help Tuberculosis (TB) patients access cash support by opening bank accounts from the comfort of their homes.
The idea is to leverage India Post Payments Bank’s network to fulfill ministry’s direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme of INR 500 a month for nutrition support. The challenge for the ministry is reportedly the lack of — or inactive — bank accounts of TB patients.
A Hindu Business Line report quoted a senior MoHFW official saying that the ministry will identify a TB patient and share his/her address with the IPPB. They will provide the patient with a plastic card with a bar code or embedded QR code.
Following this, the postman will be asked to visit the patient at the specified address in order to open a bank account. As part of this, the postman will generate a new bank account for the patient after he conducts Aadhaar-enabled validation and logging the biometrics of the patient.
The bank account details will be shared with the Ministry for transferring funds. The plastic card with the patient will be transformed into an ATM/debit card, which the patient can use for transactions.
The official also said that the IPPB has also provided mechanisms for merging different bank accounts of the patient so she/he can use the same ATM card for all transactions. A pilot will be initiated in up to eight districts in Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana.
It is to be noted that of the 21 Lakh estimated TB patients, 19.6 Lakh have received at least the first instalment of the DBT of INR 500 per head. However, the remaining 2.5 Lakh patients who are unable to get financial support due to inactive or no bank accounts will be benefitted.
The Reserve Bank of India has said that the primary objective of establishing Payments Banks is to harness technology so as to increase financial inclusion by opening small savings accounts and providing payments/ remittance services to migrant labourers, small businesses, low-income households and other entities in the unorganised sector, by using the digital medium.