Seema Prem launched FIA Global, which works on assisted banking services and partners with financial institutions, to set up banking outlets across the country.
Seema Prem was born in an Army family and had to move around a lot as a kid. Seeing various parts of India, she was determined to do something for the betterment of the people of her country. She completed her engineering and business degree and in her first job, she is proud to have been a part of the first mobile phones services that were launched in India. Intending to help her country’s people more, she entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA.
She worked on a financial exclusion project at MIT. And during her project she learned that more than 50 per cent of the world’s population is unbanked, confirming that the financial inclusion space was a huge untapped opportunity. With her knowledge of mobile phone services, she decided to solve this issue. She came runner-up in the MIT100K entrepreneurship contest with her idea. In 2012, she launched a Gurugram-based banking services firm, FIA Global.
FIA works on assisted banking services, and partners with financial institutions to set up banking outlets across the country. Functioning as a mini bank branch, the FIA outlets, also known as (aka) Customer Service Points (CSP), are equipped with a laptop, a biometric device, and a printer. Through internet connectivity, the CSPs are connected in real-time with the bank’s core banking solution and operated by a bank mitra, aka a business correspondent or bank agent.
It is here at the CSPs that the unbanked can walk in and conduct basic financial transactions in real-time. Since it is biometric-enabled, it is also completely secure. Before starting any banking operation, the banking agent is given a digital wallet which he must fund. While collecting deposits from customers, the amount is deducted from the agent’s wallet, and when it reaches 0, the agent cannot collect any more deposits. Similarly, the wallet amount increases with cash given to customers.
During the pandemic, FIA centers were essential links that continued to provide uninterrupted banking services and banked more than 2 million people (mostly women). They also disseminated vital covid information to 30,000+ villages and distributed $20 million in covid cash relief to people who needed it the most.
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