Post Offices Delivered Rs 408 Crore in Rural, Unbanked Areas During Lockdown: Amitabh Kant

India was able to bridge the last mile outreach challenge with the door-step financial service delivery of India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) during coronavirus-induced lockdown, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said on Friday.

Post offices delivered $54 million (around Rs 408 crore) through 2.1 million transactions, mostly in rural and unbanked areas, between March 24- April 23 period, Kant said.

He was speaking at a webinar on 'the role of digital financial infrastructure during the COVID-19 pandemic and lessons that can be learnt from India'.

The Niti Aayog CEO also said technology has been a major enabler in 112 aspirational districts of India, and agents are using computers, mobile phones and micro-ATMs to conduct transactions. "We were able to bridge the last mile outreach challenge with the door-step financial service delivery of India Post Payments Bank. Dak Sevaks," he stated.

Speaking at the event, SBI Chairman Rajnish Kumar said that during the COVID-19 pandemic by following social distancing, the entire financial ecosystem of the country was efficient in ensuring swift transfer of funds from government to the beneficiaries through the sound banking network.

The Indian population is diverse, has access to smartphones and mobile data, which enables them to have access to Unified Payments Interface, Kumar said.

National Payments Corporation of India MD and CEO Dilip Asbe said there's immense scope to scale up the digital payment infrastructure in the country.

The nationwide curbs were first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 for 21 days in a bid to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. The lockdown was first extended till May 3 and then again till May 17. It was further extended till May 31 and now has been extended in containment zones till June 30.