For people with low incomes in rural areas, mobile technologies open up new possibilities for them to manage their money. Previously, banks were hardly an option for them, and if they were, then they were tedious, laborious and expensive, since the poor infrastructure caused higher transaction costs. For this reason, over 60 per cent of the population in rural India has no bank account. The mobile banking system from Ekgaon (similar to that of M-Pesa) wants to change that, and to democratise access to important financial businesses such as micro-loans or pension payments. The open source software contains, for example, an App which can get micro-loans to where they’re needed within seconds – and with a sophisticated identification system (virtual fingerprint or signature), it also makes the path of the money traceable. This creates increased transparency and faster micro-financing for people who desperately need the money. Loan enquiries, credit grants and transfers are executed with a simple SMS.
To prevent excessive borrowing, Ekgaon has set up a free SMS information service for farmers, which sends them important information about price changes in agriculture and is intended to serve as a basis for making decisions on borrowing (this is also how Reuters Market Light works). The founder of Ekgaon, Vijay Pratap Singh Aditya, is also an Ashoka Fellow – because his company is a model social business.
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