A Former New York Investment Banker Takes on Financial Inclusion in India
Friday, April 24, 2015
When she left New York five years ago, a former Wall Street investment banker had a plan for a new business in India. Today, that plan has become a growing company tackling financial inclusion in a way few have considered to date, in India’s evolving, highly unique, growth environment.
Ensuring more people have access to financial services is something Neha Jetley had been considering since her time working on the IPO of Netspend’s prepaid debit cards, at Oppenheimer & Co. in New York. She’d learned that 80 million out of 240 million Americans did not have bank accounts in 2008, and that had her thinking about the numbers in India.
Here, the most indicative figures popped up in 2011, with a government censusshowing roughly 247 million Indians had bank accounts, in a population of 1.2 billion.
So when she launched EZspend Prepaid Payment Solutions in 2011, Jetley was taking on the segment of individuals who may never have bank accounts, offering a pre-paid bankcard for those wanting to transfer or spend cash safely, in a tie-up with Mumbai-based YES Bank and MasterCard MA +0.2%.
But things changed a little.
In August 2014 the government launched the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana scheme, making it easier for anyone to open a bank account, even with zero balance.
Jetley’s company, better known as EZdhan (the word dhan in Hindi has several connotations to do with money and wealth), meanwhile discovered the Indian urban migrant population – ie. those who come into the cities to work as laborers and domestic staff, for example – had bank accounts.