Why India Needs To Go Beyond Banks

Venture partner at Menlo Ventures Karl Mehta and serial entrepreneur Carol Realini are currently crowdsourcing success stories for their new book “Financial Inclusion at the Bottom of the Pyramid.” Originally profiled in a November 21 article for PYMNTS.com, the book aims to draw attention to real-world solutions that stand to deliver exponential growth in financial access. 

This entry is Part 1 of a three-part series that will profile Realini’s trip to India to meet with nominees. 


By Carol Realini (@carolrealini

As the plane landed in Delhi and I drove to my hotel, my excitement about the book and my meetings with nominees goes into high gear.

India is a perfect example of the potential impact of financial inclusion. Roughly 700 million Indians today lack full access to banking and electronic payments. Many live eight hours travel time from the nearest bank branch, and 90 percent of all consumer spending is with small or micro-businesses and in cash.

Traditional banking, with its cost models and dependency on expensive branches and ATMs, struggles to scale to address the challenges of India. Even without counting the high expense of building branches and deploying ATMs, we estimate it could take in excess of $29 billion of hard costs to sign up, educate the newly banked Indian people and ‘terminal-ize” 16 million small businesses in India. And that traditional approach would also take decades.

With banking and payments being reimagined, total financial inclusion can be achieved more efficiently and faster. This week, I meet with some of the organizations on the forefront of that imagination.

Financial Inclusion for India will provide an environment where all Indians have the opportunity to fully participate in online commerce and the new mobile-centric economy. This will mean unprecedented equal opportunity.

I’ll be back shortly with some insights from my meetings this week.


Since publication, Mehta and Realini have already received a number of compelling nominations, but there is still time for you to visit the official book website and submit your favorite companies or projects for consideration. The nomination period ends December 15th. 

Stay tuned Part 2 and Part 3 of our series for more updates from Realini and her trip on PYMNTS.com.


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Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. In the December 2019 Mobile Card App Adoption Study, PYMNTS surveyed 2,000 U.S. consumers for a reveal of the four most compelling features apps must have to engage users and drive greater adoption.

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