Recently, the mobile retail network, Eko, has tied up with the State Bank of India to expand mobile banking services across rural India. The partnership aims to create greater access to financial services such as savings, for over one million customers. Customer service points have currently been set up in a handful of cities in the North.

New Delhi: For the urban India, banking means a stop at the nearest ATM, but what about the lakhs of people in the rural India who have no such access? But now thanks to the Eko system of banking, the mobile retail network has tied up with the SBI allowing almost 11 lakh rural customers to bank through their local shops.

Sanjay Kumar works at a laundry in Delhi. In the past six months, he has saved Rs 9,000 in his savings account. Interestingly, he didn’t have to visit a bank to start the account.

11 lakh vendors like Kumar have successfully started their own savings accounts at the State Bank of India by depositing money at a local shop and helping them achieve this financial independence is Eko India Financial. Started in 2007, EKO today has several centres across India and has been helping the country’s unbanked population.

Customer service points are available in the Delhi-NCR region, Bihar and Jharkhand. These local retailers are trained through workshops conducted by Eko. They, in turn, motivate others, seeking financial independence to go to local shops and open saving accounts. But all this was not easy, said co-founder Abhinav Sinha.

India has 80,000 private and public banks to serve a billion-plus population. What’s all the more shocking is that about 40 crore people living in semi-urban and rural areas across India still have no access to even basic banking services.

For people like Sanjay Kumar, Eko has given a new lease of life, making them financially secure and stable, something that is often taken for granted by our system.