The Global Findex Report, 2017 released by the World Bank on Friday gives India more than one reason to cheer, as it notes the rapid increase in financial inclusion that has taken place in the country.
The report lists how the number of account holders in the country has risen from 35 percent of the adults in 2011 and 53 percent in 2014 to 80 percent in 2017.
This, as per the report, is comparable to 80 percent of adults in China who have an account.
It also attributes the progress being driven by the Jan Dhan Yojana policy which has used biometric ID to expand access to financial services.
Further, it may be pertinent to note that the report sources its data largely from surveys that were conducted in the summer of 2017.
According to the government data sourced from the banks, the total number of Jan Dhan account holders has risen from 28.17 crore in March 2017 to 31.44 crore in March 2018.
The total number of current and savings accounts in banks has risen from 122.3 crore in March 2015 to 157.1 crore in March 2017.
The report states that about 51.4 crore accounts have been opened globally from 2014 to 2017.
It is heartening to see that of these 51.4 crore accounts, the number of Jan Dhan Accounts opened in India during the same period is about 28.17 crore, constituting almost 55 percent of the accounts opened globally during this period.
Further, the report takes cognizance of the "dramatically increased account ownership" in India and reduced gender gap in ownership by six percentage points vis-a-vis 2014 with 83 percent of the men and 77 percent women now having an account.
Moreover, among MUDRA loan beneficiaries, women account for almost 75 percent.
This reveals how, building on this basic foundation of providing a bank account to all its people, India has huge potential to further improve theaccount usage.
In what can be seen as an answer to apprehensions raised earlier by some critics on usage of digital payments in India, the report states that 36 percent of account owners in India are already using their accounts to make or receive digital payments.
It has also identified the large existing potential in India which can be utilised to improve on this count and give people more opportunities to use their accounts for digital transactions and mobile payments.
It recognises the availability of bank accounts, debit cards and mobile connections in India, which would be critical in improving the account usage in future.
In other words it may be said that the report reaffirms the potential of the "Jan Dhan-Aadhar-Mobile (JAM) Trinity" in expanding financial inclusion.
Other potential target groups identified in the report to increase digital payments are adults in India who have an account and a mobile phone.
Among these are about 50 million adults receiving payments for sale of agricultural goods, about 70 million adults working in the private sector and receiving wage payments in cash and about 170 million adults who pay their utility bills in cash.
This heartening review of India's financial inclusion and digital payment initiatives by the Global Findex Report, 2017 and the identification of potential waiting to be unlockedgives further impetus to the Government's ongoing efforts for financial inclusion. (ANI)