Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma on Wednesday launched and distributed the micro ATM to the Business Correspondent Agents (BCA) in the presence of Minister in-charge of Community and Rural Development, Hamletson Dohling at Yojana Bhavan in the main Secretariat in Shillong.
The micro ATM is a hand held device to be operated by the BCA in rural areas for banking services, particularly withdrawals.
Promoted by Meghalaya State Rural Livelihood Society (MSRLS), this initiative is in partnership with Meghalaya Rural Bank (MRB) and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).
In June this year, the MSRLS had signed a MoU with MRB for rolling out the BCA project whereby 84 Self Help Groups (SHGs) who were functioning as ‘bank sakhi’ and positioned with MRB branches are being engaged as BCA.
Sangma said that the micro ATMs will provide access to basic banking services in rural areas, which will empower the rural population as far as banking needs are concerned. “Micro ATMs will take banking services to the doorsteps in rural areas”, he asserted.
Citing that low penetration of banking infrastructure and financial services in the rural areas has posed a challenge, the Chief Minister said, “In absence of basic banking services in rural areas implementation of various development and welfare schemes are delayed because people have to travel far distance for basic banking needs”.
Terming that the micro ATMs will augment the banking services in rural areas, he said, “Providing banking infrastructure and financial services is a huge challenge that most states face including ours and with this initiative of using technology coupled with trained manpower we have the opportunity to transform lives and livelihood of the people”.
Sangma and Dohling also handed over micro ATMs to select BCAs from across the state, while also urging the concerned authorities to further increase such services to cover unreached banking areas.