With plans towards automation of rural banks gaining momentum, HCL and a handful of other technology companies are in the race to bag contracts worth over Rs 2,000-crore.

The contracts which are open over the next 18-24 months are aimed at automating rural banks affiliated to nationalised banks such as SBI, Punjab National Bank, Indian Bank, Bank of Allahabad, so that they could extend their rural reach.

It has been reported that there currently exist around 120 million potential customers who can be brought under financial inclusion It is in this context that the IT majors are eyeing to tap the rural banking opportunity in the next 12-4 months by providing technology support to the banks. The RBI says there are 14,475 rural banks in the country, of which 2,126 are located in remote rural areas. This forms a cool 91%.

HCL, in the meantime, is also in the process of introducing rural ATMs which will be deployed by banks in locations with relatively low transaction volumes. This initiative is also aimed at providing a helping hand in banks’ efforts aimed at financial inclusion.

With only 59% of the adult population in India possessing bank accounts, financial inclusion initiatives have turned out to be a key focus area for banks. Efforts aimed at narrowing the gap by taking no-frills banking to rural areas have been accorded priority. This has ushered in the need for automation, and it is here the tech majors see an opportunity.

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