Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has urged all banks to ensure that a branch-level staffer speaks the local language of the area he or she is posted in to ensure that business needs are met.
FM Sitharaman, while addressing bankers' lobby grouping at Indian Banks Association's annual general meeting on Friday, asked why a banker can't learn a new language.
She added that lenders need to be sensible in their recruitment strategy and ensure those who do not know the regional language are made to work in backend offices and not in customer-facing branch offices.
Sitharaman also appreciated the positive role that Banking Correspondents (BCs), especially female BCs, have played in financial inclusion over the years. The FM said that women BCs have been much more productive than their male counterparts and wanted bankers "to be positively prejudiced to hire more and more women as BCs".
The minister also appreciated the critical role banks played during the Covid pandemic in helping the wheels of the economy move.
But she flagged the lack of coordination between banks and urged synergy to ensure customers do not face inconvenience.
"Each of us (banks) have created our own empires. Each of us have got our own digital systems. But that does not talk to the next one," the FM said, addressing bankers' lobby grouping at Indian Banks Association's annual general meeting.
The minister also clarified that her request is directed at both the government-run and private banks.
She also underlined the importance of creating digitally savvy banks with the right product offerings that took care of requirements of all sections of the society, including the youth and the women.
Banks will have to play a major role in India's quest to transform itself into a developed nation, and they must gear up for the same, Sitharaman said.
Banks also need to ensure that artificial intelligence tools and web 3.0 are adopted and implemented into their systems for early detection of frauds, the FM said, adding that cyber security also needs adequate attention through the building firewalls.
FM Sitharaman stated that "no fraudulent account will be left without being taken to the court, and banks shall not suffer for the monies that have been taken away by the fraudsters.”
FM, while commenting on the upcoming festive season, said there are indications that people are willing to spend on consumption, travel and stays. Therefore, banks must ensure that credit requirements are met on time and correct products are made available.
(With input from agencies)
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