Grameen Solutions-Obopay launch 'Bank A Billion'

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Mumbai, Aug 5 (UNI) Bangladesh-based socio-eco development pioneer Grameen Solutions and US-based mobile payment provider Obopay announced the launch of the ''Grameen-Obopay Bank A Billion'' to extend microcredit to the country's rural areas here today.

The pilot project will be launched in Mumbai and will commence operations formally across the country including the northeast and Bangladesh, in October-November following RBI clearance.

''We are waiting for RBI to issue a draft to the banks and we will be operating under its guidelines. We have tied up with banks who are allowed to undertake inquiries on the details of the project, but not the transactions for now,'' Obopay (India) Executive Director Aditya D Menon said, at the launch.

Utilizing the ''no frills'' RBI guidelines for opening accounts in banks, the project plans to cater to the USD 30 billion untapped microcredit market, using banks, mobile operators, microfinance institutes and the experience of Grameen. Services would include ''real time'' money transfer, payments, savings and credit facilities.

The project has tied up with mobile phone operators to make use of the country's 1.2 million cellphone outlet network via which the transactions will take place.

Also in the equation are microfinancing institutions (MFIs) which will introduce the project to the rural poor and Self Help Groups (SHGs).

Chip based solutions and ISO 2001 Guidelines will be followed to ensure security and safety of the transactions.

To keep the cost of transactions low, the project has tied up with international Foundations to absorb the costs.

Following India and Bangladesh, the project will be implemented in Africa-Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya-East Europe, South East Asia and deliver banking services to one billion people by 2018.

UNI ZC SR NP1748

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