Bangalore, March 07, 2023: In an interesting insight, PayNearby, India’s leading branchless banking and digital network, today said that more than 10,000 women entrepreneurs have dispensed over ₹900 crores of financial services in the last financial year. The report further highlighted that more than 76% of female customers, who availed basic banking services at PayNearby’s retail outlets preferred biometric authentication as a mode of cash withdrawal. Interestingly, cash which dominated the payment space among women in FY 2021-22, still continues to hold strong, with around 48% of women saying they preferred dealing in cash. Aadhaar-led transactions and UPI QR too have gained momentum. Cards continue to have minimal presence in this segment.

The insight was shared as part of a detailed survey titled – PayNearby Women Financial Index (PWFI) – an annual Pan-India report showcasing financial consumption by women at retail stores, released by PayNearby in association with the Reserve Bank Innovation Hub (RBIH) today. The annual report, in its third edition, was prepared basis a Pan-India survey conducted by the company among 5,000+ retail stores in the country, recording financial transactions of women consumers as observed in those outlets.

According to the survey, more than 75% of the retailers mentioned that women within the age group of 18-30 years were the most digitally adept, with over 60% of this age bracket owning a smartphone and accessing digital content through it. This was immediately followed by the age group 31-40 years.

Over 65% of women customers, especially in the cash withdrawal markets, fell in the age group of 31-40 years, with AePS being the most used banking service. Though cash has lost some ground since the last report, it still continues to be the most preferred mode of payment with 48% citing cash payment as their first preference. Incidentally UPI too saw good growth in adoption among women consumers, with preferences ranging from 5-20% among different age groups. Card continues to have little to no recall and usage in this segment.

Approximately 78% of women cited cash withdrawal as the primary reason for visiting a retail store for financial transactions. ₹1000-2500 was the most preferred range of withdrawal for women across the country.

Mobile recharges, bill payments and travel booking were the next three popular services availed by women customers at retail touchpoints. At urban and metro centers, money remittance saw good adoption with transactions being primarily conducted by young working women belonging to the age bracket of 21-30 years and 31-40 years. EMI payments at retail outlets also witnessed decent growth. Though mostly in the range of ₹500-1000, the growth in EMI collection indicates increased awareness and appetite for credit and other financial products in women across the country.

The report further stated that while more than 74% of women operated their bank accounts themselves, they were primarily for the purpose of cash withdrawals and cash deposits. Interestingly, more than 20% of the women also admitted to their husbands operating their bank accounts instead of themselves.

When asked about their top three saving goals, ‘child education’ topped the list, which was followed by ‘medical emergency’ and ‘buying household electronic items’. Interestingly, there was a growing awareness among women to save for their children’s future with more than 68% of those surveyed citing good education for their kids as a priority for them. Saving for medical emergencies and rainy days stood at 30% with women being aware of future exigencies post the pandemic. 55% of women indicated ₹500-750 as their preferred range for monthly savings. Formal savings instruments though, continue to see thin adoption, with less than 15% of those surveyed aware of formal savings instruments.

Consumption of evolved services such as insurance still continues to be low (1%) despite 29% of women being aware about insurance products. The survey highlighted that for India to be financially inclusive in its true sense, there is an impending need to create more awareness for the same, especially across rural and beyond Tier II markets. However, among the cognizant respondents, life insurance followed by health were the preferred choices.

Further, the survey indicated that almost 39% of women visiting Kiranas and retail outlets for financial transactions used smartphones and also availed WhatsApp actively. Adoption in cities was as high as 50-60%. Rural Bharat also saw a good adoption, with double-digit adoption almost everywhere in the country. This signifies a rising acceptance of digital services among women consumers visiting Kirana stores for financial transactions.

The research specified that there was an increased awareness for online entertainment and online commerce, with 16% and 23% of respondents showing willingness to consume these services digitally. It ratifies the fact that women at the last mile are ready to graduate to the next level of lifestyle and technology and validates the latent demand for such services among them.

Another interesting trend that was visible was the leap in travel bookings made by women customers at the retail outlets. 90% of the respondents showed willingness to book a rail ticket from their nearby store, with more than 16% confirming that they have booked one in the last year. Financial identity through PAN card issuance also saw good adoption in this cohort, and although the numbers are still small, it indicates the growing awareness among women to become self-reliant and be a part of the formal financial economy.

Commenting on the findings, Anand Kumar Bajaj, Founder, MD & CEO, PayNearby, said, “The findings in the PWFI report are inspiring and emphasize the fact that women of the country are slowly but steadily gearing up to walk hand-in-hand with India’s growth.

At PayNearby, we believe it is our responsibility to bridge the digital divide that exists between segments. Towards this purpose, more than 10,000 of our women entrepreneurs have distributed over ₹900 crores of financial services in the last financial year. This uptake in the consumption of AePS and UPI at the last mile is the result of the progressive efforts of National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). NPCI has been the flagbearer of India’s digital transformation and our constant guide in furthering Bharat’s digital journey.

We are also grateful to RBIH for helping us build a fertile ground and a brigade of futuristic Digital Naaris to carry the torch of inclusion further. We want women to have greater control over their earnings, savings, and other critical elements. For this, we aim to enable form-factor agnostic, simple-to-use platforms at all nearby retail stores, so that our women can take control of their futures and be active partners in the nation’s success story. Sashakt Naari, Sashakt Desh,” Mr. Bajaj added.

Commenting on PWFI, Rajesh Bansal, CEO, RBIH, said, “It is heartening to see that there is an uptake of digital financial products and services among women at the last mile. The PWFI report is an eye-opener and game-changer as it will help us leverage technology and innovation in the right direction. Serving as a template, it will help us build symbiotic partnerships and alliances in the financial services ecosystem to design smart, creative, and sustainable solutions for un/underserved women users in India. We are glad that RBIH has partnered with PayNearby in its journey towards building an inclusive nation and changing the notion of how finance is perceived by women or how the market sees and serves women as end-users. At RBIH, we believe economic empowerment will drive gender equality and we are committed to making all women self-sufficient by rooting for frictionless finance for all.”

Jayatri Dasgupta, CMO, PayNearby, said “India is at the cusp of a digital revolution. However, for this to happen, our women force needs the necessary tools to get inducted into this fast-moving digital economy. We are delighted to present our third edition of PWFI, an annual stock taking exercise of where we stand and what needs to be done to evolve women into equal participants in India’s growth journey.

It is encouraging to see young women actively consuming digital financial services across retail stores in the country. The women in Bharat are aspirational, and the increased uptake of services like assisted commerce, online education and PAN issuance validates our commitment to make these services easily available at a store nearby. Today, even though the journey is largely assisted, to make our women self-sufficient, we will need to work harder on creating a more empowered ecosystem around them. This means ensuring easy availability of all products and services that can break tech and cost barriers and be easily assimilated across all segments of the society.”