Interview with Nazir and B. Vishwanatha Reddy, Banking Correspondents, at a street corner in Gonegundla, Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh
Duration: 00:13:58; Aspect Ratio: 1.778:1; Hue: 20.234; Saturation: 0.155; Lightness: 0.195; Volume: 0.331; Cuts per Minute: 0.573; Words per Minute: 114.699
The Identity project emerged as a result of our dissatisfaction at the nature of the debate that was emerging on the area of digital governance in India.
Over the past three years we have conducted numerous field visits in seven Indian states.These visits include numerous video-conversations, some short and others very long, with a diverse number of those who were involved with this entire process of participating in the emergence of a digital ecosystem of governance. These are interviews with people being enrolled into the Aadhaar programme, with district-level Panchayat and other officials, with numerous State government bureaucrats, with private enrollment representatives, representatives of various governmental services, with operators and other members of this digital workforce. Conversations are often long, spontaneous and deliberately unstructured: and the focus is mainly on a vérité style using amateur video.
Some key issues that we shortlisted for detailed inquiry were issues of migrants, both domestic and across international borders, homelessness in cities, and the financially excluded. Each of these areas was discussed in considerable detail at major public consultations held in Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bangalore, in partnership with the CSDS, the Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group, and the Urban Research and Policy Programme Initiative of the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore. All videos of all presentations made at these events are also available here.
CSCS also has an extensive text archives of material on the field as a whole, available on http://eprints.cscsarchives.org
Conversations with two Banking Correpondents, Nazir and B. Vishwanatha Reddy, on the street at Gonegundla, Kurnool. Following the gradual entry of banks, these small-time entrepreneurs provide essential banking services that are being sought to replace both the moneylending practices and those of the micro-finance companies in the State.
Speaker: At the time of harvest we used to deposit the money we got in the bank. That's how we got introduced about 3 months ago. We were told that there was this BF* scheme and if we wanted we could apply for it.
INTERVIEWER: So you have both?
Speaker: At the moment only I have both.
INTERVIEWER: Didn't he say he had both too?
Speaker: He had BF before he's applied now for the BC.
Speaker: We approached them to open accounts. In our country about 60% of the population don't have accounts. Only 40% have bank accounts. If one has to be able to save money or pay debts bank accounts are important. For older people to avail pension later in life, we talk to them and get them to put away their savings in banks.
INTERVIEWER: What do you do in general? Do you run a business?
Speaker: I own an electrical shop. I am originally from Pulmaala, but moved here a long time ago.
INTERVIEWER: How are people in touch with you? You mentioned if anyone needs financial assistance you refer them to banks. Do you meet people through your electrical business?
Speaker: No sir. People from my hometown used to ask me to help since they didn't know how and where to get loans and whom to approach. So I used to act as a mediator. They give loans according to seasons. June, July, August and September is the Kharif season and Rabi starts from December. The farmers need cash for seed and material, so they lend it to them. After harvest, they’d repay the money and may be open an account and deposit some money.
INTERVIEWER: If you get a loan sanctioned then how much do you get?
Speaker: Only now they've started giving me some. Earlier I used to do it whenever I had the time.
INTERVIEWER: How much do you get now?
Speaker: They give me 0.75%.
INTERVIEWER: So the bigger the loan, your commission will be that much higher.
Speaker: Yes sir.
INTERVIEWER: So does everyone who goes through you get the loan?
Speaker: Yes sir.
INTERVIEWER: Are these agricultural loans?
Speaker: These are all agricultural loans.
INTERVIEWER: So up to Rs.25, 000, anything more will need a security.
Speaker: For agricultural loans up to a Lac security isn't required.
INTERVIEWER: This is only for people who have farmlands, right?
Speaker: For others also, people who run shops and businesses get SME loans.
INTERVIEWER: You guide all these people for these loans? What kind of surety is required?
Speaker: For up to 25,000 it isn't required. If it is 50,000 then either employee surety or if they are slightly well off and vouched for, we take them to the bank and get them loans against fixed deposits.
INTERVIEWER: If you get a fixed deposit done then how much are you paid?
INTERVIEWER: Also for RDA? Do you get on the total amount or on the monthly payments?
Speaker: On the monthly payments, sir.
INTERVIEWER: So, if the installment is of 5000, then you get 5% of the 5000?
Speaker: Yes sir.
INTERVIEWER: Have there been instances where loan seekers have submitted false documents? Do you verify this or do the bank officials do it?
Speaker 2: No sir. The Bank officials do all the verifications. Also there are lawyers and we also look at the papers.
Speaker 1: They have to get VRO and MRO papers signed and follow the procedures, so there is no foul play.
Speaker 2: We proceed only after getting the signatures from VRO and MRO. They decide if it's all right or not.
INTERVIEWER: So the authenticity of the person applying is not up to you to verify, the bank does all of this?
Speaker 2: In our villages we make sure everything is right. We know our candidates personally. Also there are documents to be produced like ration card, voters' ID, nativity certificate.
INTERVIEWER: Can anyone from your village come to you or have you two divided your areas?
Speaker: We have segregated but according to the bank, anyone can come.
INTERVIEWER: So you take all the documents to the bank here?
Speaker: No sir, in Kurnool.
INTERVIEWER: And then they open their accounts here...?
Speaker: When the account is opened, we get a reference number. When our officer updates these reference numbers then we get the account numbers. We print the cards and pass it on to the account holders, who use it for their deposits and whatever purposes.
Speaker: For BC there's fingerprinting, but for the accounts we just have to fill in forms.
Speaker 2: Once an account is opened, if a person from this village goes to any other place with this system then he can operate his account from there and withdraw money. Like ATM, although ATM machines are only in towns, in villages if this kind if bank exists then he can use his card and withdraw money.
INTERVIEWER: What is the limit?
Speaker: 10,000 for a day.
INTERVIEWER: If someone needs money urgently, and has overdrawn on the daily limit. So can you tell the bank people that this person has withdrawn this money over two days?
Speaker: No sir. It gets printed in the card.
INTERVIEWER: Even at night? So it is compulsory for you to have internet then?
Speaker: We work on Sundays even.
INTERVIEWER: Has the bank provided the connection or did you purchase?
Speaker: We have purchased the connection, but the bank updates it. Since they have appointed us, they've given us passwords and fingerprint access.
INTERVIEWER: Did you know how to use a computer or did you have to learn for this?
Speaker: We had to learn for this.
INTERVIEWER: Did the bank train you for this?
Speaker: No sir, we got trained by ourselves. The bank trained us on other things, like documents and how to run this franchise.
INTERVIEWER: For how long was this training?
Speaker: There are different durations, ranging from 1 to 12 days. We were there for a week. We just arrived after training.
INTERVIEWER: What training was this?
Speaker: On the bank procedures.
INTERVIEWER: Not about computer interface, only manual documentation work and that sort of thing.
INTERVIEWER: So people are used to you... So this new business that's begun, through the banks, is this only because of people who have been transacting with banks or other people also?
Speaker: Only people who go to bank get accounts opened through us. If there are people who don't know anything about this, then we go to them and get their accounts opened.
INTERVIEWER: How many accounts have you helped open?
Speaker: it opened in March here, and I started from April.
INTERVIEWER: So what’s the number of accounts?
Speaker: 40 - 50 a month... Some people have had a hundred and made Rs.7000.
INTERVIEWER: Was this a bonus from the bank?
Speaker: Yes. Usually it is Rs.3000 plus Rs.2000 salary but as an offer they got Rs.2000 more.
INTERVIEWER: When do you make a profit? Is it when people take more loans or if they make more deposits?
Speaker: Equally at both instances, sir.
INTERVIEWER: But if you calculate, which makes you more money?
Speaker 2: If there is more transaction, then the commission also increases.
Speaker1: In the BF scheme, if the mortgage is more, like 5 or 10 lac then the commission amount increases.
INTERVIEWER: What percentage?
INTERVIEWER: Even if it is 5 lakh it is 0.75%?
INTERVIEWER: Who provided you with the computer?
Speaker: We bought it.
INTERVIEWER: So it is your investment.
Speaker: yes sir.
INTERVIEWER: What was your total investment?
Speaker: Rs.50, 000 was the deposit and Rs.50, 000 for the system and printer, fingerprint machine et cetera.
INTERVIEWER: Will you give them a recipt as and when you make a transaction?
Speaker: No receipt. We give them a statement on paper. Not on the passbook. And we give them just a card in the beginning.
INTERVIEWER: Is there a format you've been given or do you just print it regularly on a small machine or do you use a regular printer? Can we have a look?
Speaker: My office isn't here. It's in Pulamaala.
INTERVIEWER: There was someone here who runs it here...
Speaker: He's gone away.
INTERVIEWER: What happens when your clients default on the loans? Do you have to recover the money or does the bank send someone?
Speaker 2: We have to be there but the bank people also come.
Speaker1: We're sent a list of defaulters and asked to recover. They offer to help us in the recovery. If we can manage it then we do it. If we think we can and the customer is troublesome then we ask the bank to send someone.
INTERVIEWER: So the recovery is your responsibility?
Speaker: Yes sir.
INTERVIEWER: If the client is stubborn and doesn't repay at all, then what happens? Is it a loss for you? Do they get the money from you?
Speaker: If there's any trouble then we tell the bank and they do the needful. We are not liable.
INTERVIEWER: Do they deduct from your commission?
Speaker: No sir. It isn't connected.
INTERVIEWER: You were BF before, why did you take on BC also?
Speaker 1: Since they knew me and trusted me, and they needed someone they could depend on, they said I could take on BC along with my existing BF. If I had BC then I could get transactions done on the spot and provide all the information. Then our sir asked me I could take any one and someone else would be appointed and I picked BC.
INTERVIEWER: Canara Bank has also appointed people. How much business are they doing approximately?
Speaker: We don't know. We've been doing this for a long time and they've just started.
INTERVIEWER: Do you withdraw the deposit yourselves or does the bank do it?
Speaker: One has to go to the bank for withdrawals.
INTERVIEWER: So you can't withdraw for someone and deposit in an account?
Speaker: No sir.
INTERVIEWER: Your names?
Speaker 2: Nazir, Sir.
Speaker 1: B. Vishwanath Reddy.