Mumbai: The Reserve Bank on Thursday cautioned that "unbridled" financial inclusion drive could create problems and asked banks to take adequate safeguards in this regard.
"Sometimes, over-enthusiastic, unbridled financial inclusion without safeguards can create problems. And if problems come, recovery from that will be another problem," RBI Deputy Governor Khan said.
"You need to be careful about what sort of portfolio will you be building through financial inclusion; what is the quality of the portfolio and who are the people who are generating the portfolio," he said, adding technology alone cannot help.
Khan said bankers are already concerned about the Rs 5,000 overdraft facility given under the Jan-Dhan Yojana and advised the lenders to device the right framework to deal with the issue.
"One problem --- many bankers are scared to lend if they don't know the credit history of the person. We are now struggling, now every banker talks about how to handle this Rs 5,000 overdraft issue?" he said.
So far, banks have opened 12 crore accounts under the scheme since last August, covering 99 percent of the target. But going forward the focus needs to shift to making the financial inclusion drive more meaningful and ensuring it is sustainable, Khan said.
"The focus of financial inclusion should now shift to more meaningful and more sustainable financial inclusion."
Stating that various studies say a majority of accounts under the scheme are not operational and carry zero balance, Khan wondered if the direct benefit transfer alone can ensure these accounts are viable and advocated adoption of right policies to make it possible.
He said challenges in financial inclusion are "enormous" but RBI, Government and lenders are "on the same page" in finding the right solutions to deal with them.
The Deputy Governor said financial inclusion can be profitable if banks have the right business models, which will entail tying up with a mobile telephony company.
The upcoming small finance and payments banks can also be successful by tying up with mobile companies for their services, he added.