State Bank of India (SBI) has acquired a 20% stake in A Little World (ALW), developer of an NFC-based low cost bank branch solution, DealCurry reports. SBI has paid INR800m (US$18m) for the stake, valuing A Little World at INR4,000m (US$90m approx).
Three million people living in 20,000 of India's most rural villages use ALW's Zero Mobile Platform to access a wide range of banking services that could previously only be accessed in towns and more heavily populated areas of the country.
Zero uses an NFC phone as a miniature local bank branch, called a Customer Service Point, that enables local citizens to access banking facilities without the need to provide a physical bank branch. All that is required to operate a bank branch is an NFC phone, a fingerprint scanner/printer and a camera. Customer Service Points can therefore be located at low cost in village stores and bank representatives can also travel from village to village, bringing with them all the equipment needed to operate a bank branch.
When they open their bank account, customers are issued with a smart card which stores details such as their name and address, photograph, fingerprint templates and the details of their savings or loan accounts. The NFC phone stores details of the entire database of customers in the village and neighbouring areas within its memory so that, when a customer wishes to carry out a transaction, the phone and the fingerprint reader can be used to verify the customer's identity and record details of the transaction.
Zero can be used for cash deposits, cash withdrawals, utility payments, money transfers, paying insurance premiums and the purchase of railway tickets. It can also be used to receive pension payments, housing grants, scholarships and wages.