Shillong, Oct. 21: Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma on Wednesday launched and distributed the “micro ATM” to the Business Correspondent Agents (BCA) in presence of Community & Rural Development Minister Hamletson Dohling at Yojana Bhavan in Main Secretariat Shillong.
Micro ATM is a hand held device, which will be operated by the BCA in rural areas to enable access to banking services, particularly withdrawals. The initiative is being promoted by the Meghalaya State Rural Livelihood Society (MSRLS) in partnership with Meghalaya Rural Bank (MRB) and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).
In June this year, the MSRLS had signed an MoU with MRB to roll 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.
In his address, the Chief Minister 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”, the Chief Minister 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”.
At the launch of the initiative, Chief Minister and C&RD Minister 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.