Yes, you’ve got that right! To open your new savings bank account and for your daily financial transactions, there’s no need to stand in queues in your bank branches for hours. Instead, go to your nearest grocery shop and enjoy the privilege of ‘Eko’ banking. Known for providing low cost infrastructure powered by innovation and technology to enable instant, secure and convenient financial transactions, Eko is redefining the banking for urban poor.Inspiration
With only 59% of households in India having bank accounts (Source- RBI) the number speaks for itself. Clearly there’s a demand supply gap which Eko is addressing by leveraging on the existing retail shops, telecom connectivity and banking infrastructure to extend branchless banking services to the common man. Targeting the urban poor who’re currently under-served by the banking industry, Eko is bridging the gap between traditional banking infrastructure and people who do not have access to banking. It is an innovation built around the usage of mobile where customers can walk-in to any Eko counter (retail outlet) to open an RD, FD or a savings account, deposit & withdraw cash from the account, send money to any part of the country, receive money from any part of the world, buy mobile talk-time or pay for a host of services.
Product & Technology
Eko provides a multi-modal (USSD, SMS, IVR and Application) approach to perform a transaction, hence the service works across all mobile handsets – lowest to most sophisticated ones. Eko also uses a two factor strong authentication to complete the transaction. It has created and patented a low cost One Time Password (OTP) generator called ‘OkeKey’. Performing a transaction only requires numeric literacy for number dialing. “Information & Communication Technology (ICT) is the backbone of our product and there is no other way the current infrastructure could have scaled in banks. If we believe in making a dent, then the only way to make it happen is by using the future technology,” said Abhinav Sinha, Co-Founder & COO, Eko.Impact
Eko’s bouquet of products and services includes Banking and Money Transfers, Payments, SimpliBank Platform and Cash Management. It has been able to reach out to over 2 million people through the extensive network of more than 2000 retail outlets. Most of these outlets are located in Tier-1 cities and other urban localities including Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, UP, Punjab, Bihar. There have been examples where the entire neighborhood of drivers & maids did not even have a single bank account holder.
Partnerships & Collaboration
Eko has strategically partnered with State Bank of India, Yes Bank & HDFC Bank. Explaining the reason Abhinav says, “Today, SBI is India’s largest bank , HDFC leads private sector banks and Yes Bank is the youngest of all but fastest growing and using most innovative technology. This gives Eko the perfect balance of the extended network & power of technology.” Eko also partners with institutions to offer payments, cash collection and disbursal services.
NSIH 2013 awards gave Eko good amount of visibility and have exposed them to more innovative technology & its utilization in this space. Eko is currently India’s largest low cost banking infrastructure on phone. They plan to extend their services to Tier-2, Tier-3 cities and villages subsequently. Continuous innovation and investing heavily on technology to ensure smooth services are the top two points in the agenda for Eko.
Financial Inclusion in India
Financial inclusion in India still remains a major issue but examples like Eko in this domain can bring about the much needed change. Eko sees following solutions to be playing important role in this space:
a) Awareness – Services in the banking sector have been added continuously but the relative growth of awareness of the same is slow. Moreover, for financial services customer trust building is a necessity for adoption.
b) Infrastructure & Support – Business correspondents are required to redress customer grievances. More ATMs or transaction points need to be placed. Eko itself is not a bank but they work with banks who understand the customer better.
c) Robust technology – Use of ICT, mobile & technology innovation to configure a promising product in short time is another important component of the solution.
With over 65 million transactions, Eko has processed maximum number of transactions on mobile in India and holds the patent for secure financial transactions being the only solution provider across the globe.
Note: YourStory is the Media Partner for NASSCOM Social Innovation Honors 2013.
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