This Akodara village in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat has earned the coveted tag of becoming India’s first digital village. The village with a total population of around 12,000 people and 225 households uses a various cashless systems for payments of goods and services. These transactions are carried out through digital modes such as the SMS, net-banking and debit cards.
Interestingly, this village was adopted by ICICI Bank under its Digital Village Project and made cashless by adopting digital technology. The project was launched in January 2016 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and ICICI Bank MD and CEO Chanda Kochar to mark 60-year-celebration of the ICICI group’s existence. The campaign is committed to connect rural India with high speed internet networks, create a digital infrastructure, and improve digital literacy in the country.
All households in village have savings account in local ICICI Bank branch. The people have easy access to financial inclusion and access to modern banking through the local bank branch, and the village ATM, also through mobile phones via SMS. The village has almost 100% financial rate and all mobile banking is done in Hindi, English and Gujarati languages. It also has its own official website. The villagers’ most important transactions — selling agri-produce at the local mandi or selling milk at the co-operative society — have been digitised and made cashless. Even, the village panchayat has access to the latest price of agricultural commodities on NCDEX via an internet facility provided by the bank. The bank has also provided training to villagers to embrace digital technology to reduce dependence on cash.
So, India’s PM Modi's cashless economy dream is a reality in this tiny Gujarat village. It can be said that this village has become a key example of how e-banking can be practically implemented in Indian villages without much difficulty to make India cashless economy.