The lockdown that has gravely inconvenienced so many has barely scratched regular banking customers--they have options like branch banking, net banking and digital banking. But imagine the plight of unbanked customers, migrant workers in particular. Earning paltry sums, these often itinerant workers do not have the privilege of banking services and are dependent on business correspondents (BCs) to deposit, withdraw or transfer money. These services have taken a hit due to the lockdown, as most BCs have shut shop.
But John Pereira, 45, who runs SABS Enterprises, a money transfer business in the industrial town of Vasai, 60 km from Mumbai, is staying open for the sake of daily wage earners, all migrants struggling to survive after the closure of their factories. With no income, they have little or no cash.
Pereira requested authorities to allow him to keep his shop open so that workers can withdraw some money from their accounts. These, usually, are at a bank branch back at their hometowns where their families use pass books and ATM cards to withdraw money. Now, thanks to an Aadhaar-enabled system, workers use their Aadhaar number and biometrics to withdraw money, availing unique software that agents like Pereira have in their system. The required amount is credited into Pereira’s account and he gives them cash.
Considering Pereira’s spotless track record, local authorities acceded to his request to remain open. His now is the only money transfer outfit working still in the large industrial area—a beacon of hope for hundreds. He tries to stick to his regular working hours of 8 am to 10 pm. “What we get as commission (Rs 5 for a withdrawal of Rs 5,000) does not cover even the costs for staff, electricity and rent. However, we are doing this with the sole intention of helping people for whom survival s daily challenge. It is their blessings that motivate us and keeps us going,” he says.