In May 2012, we held our annual global management conference in Mumbai. The theme was growth with responsibility, which was particularly relevant given Experian’s continued expansion in emerging markets such as India.
Inspired by this event, we resolved to bring Experian’s global resources and insights to bear on social issues facing Indian communities. The most fundamental issue is that many people cannot access the most basic financial services or government assistance, because they have no official identity.
Today, only 40% of India’s population have bank accounts. More importantly, rural India accounts for just 9% of deposits. The lack of formal banking facilities means that non-banking channels are the only credit source for much of the rural population and the urban poor. This results in poor access to credit, very high costs of delivery and the risks associated with informal lending.
To start addressing this exclusion and inequality, the Indian government is developing a Unique Identification Database (UID) for all its citizens, using biometric and other evidence to create an online record, known as an Aadhaar. It will provide a form of official identity, enabling people to access state benefits and financial services.
Using funding from Experian’s social innovation programme (see the 'Using innovation to generate social and commercial value' page), we are working with the Indian government to accelerate this process, by linking this unique record to our Prove ID verification product. By connecting multiple data sources, Prove ID shows when and where individuals are registered, allowing their identities to be quickly verified online and removing the need for paper records and local investigator visits. This more efficient process speeds up access to finance and ensures that any Indian citizen who applies for a bank account or loan will be traceable on the UID. Regardless of the result of their application, a positive trace will be left with the financial organisation they interact with, which in turn helps to build a credit history that will benefit their future applications.
Our goal is to accelerate access to financial services for more people, which in turn will help to boost the Indian economy and improve living standards.