Ok. This just pisses me off. Can someone explain to me why Citibank is going to spend the money to develop and implement fingerprint reading ATMs for the poorest people in India, but not for the richest people in the US?
I mean, I wouldn’t have to lug along another ATM card if they’d just put a fingerprint scanner on their ATMs. Instead I could just swipe a finger, enter my PIN and be gone. Just think – if someone stole my wallet I wouldn’t have to worry about not having any cash as long as I could get to an ATM.
Citigroup is rolling out a network of biometric automatic cash machines aimed at illiterate Indian slum dwellers, using the latest technology to woo the country’s millions of “unbanked” poor.
The machines will recognise account holders’ thumbprints, eliminating the need for a personal identification number, and will have colour-coded screen instructions and voiceovers to help guide them through transactions.
But here is the real story…
Though India’s population exceeds 1bn, Citigroup estimates that there are only about 300m bank accounts in the country. However, loan repayment rates among the poorest borrowers in micro-finance schemes are about 98 per cent Ã¢â‚¬â€œ among the highest in the banking sector.
Citibank certainly figures that if they can go into the micro-lending business with these folks and still charge decent interest rates (maybe 10-20%?) they will make a killing! Think about it. With virtually all of these people paying back what they owe Citibank would get them all hooked on credit and then have a fat profit stream for the long haul.
Don’t get me wrong, the other side of this coin is that micro-lending and banking services for the poor could spur a lot of economic development in that segment, which is certainly a good thing. But corporations aren’t in business to be philanthropic – and they have certainly stated that isn’t their goal here…
Mr Jayakumar said Citigroup’s scheme aimed to make a profit but he gave no timeframe. “It’s not a philanthropic exercise,” he said. “For it to be sustainable, we should break even and make a little bit of money.”
Read the full article on MSNBC.