The postal department has surpassed the country's largest lender, SBI, in terms of digital connectivity even before its payments bank launch, Union IT and Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said. "The core banking solution (CBS) or digital connectivity of the postal department has surpassed the State Bank of India's digital connectivity," Prasad said at a special session on the third day of the ongoing Make in India week in Mumbai.
There are over 1.50 lakh post offices across the country, of which 1.25 lakh are in rural areas, and the department had embarked on CBS connectivity a few years ago. The department is all set to launch a payments bank by March 2017. SBI Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya had in the past expressed reservations about the entry of payments banks.
The postal department has got in-principle nod to start a payments bank, along with 10 other players, including corporate houses like the Mahindras, the Birlas, Reliance Industries and telecom firms with a deeper distribution network such as Bharti Airtel. The successful applicants have been given 18 months to start operations. They are required to present a final plan of operation to the Reserve Bank of India before final nod.
Speaking at the special session on IT and electronics, Prasad appealed all to invest more in the country, saying India will be a USD 1 trillion opportunity for digital companies in five years. He elaborated that electronics will be a USD 350 billion industry while IT, IT-enabled services and e-commerce would bring in USD 350 billion and USD 250 billion for the communication sector.
The minister said electronics and IT manufacturing are also crucial for the success of flagship programmes such as Start-up India and Digital India. He listed consumer, defence, automobile and medical electronics as the sub-sectors full with opportunities. Prasad sees the target of having 500 million Internet users advancing by one year to 2016-end instead of 2017.
In the same vein, the minister said he is sensitive to the demand on the skilling front and added that over 1,200 doctoral candidates in 80 select universities will be benefiting under a special scheme.