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Sub-K: Seeking the next breakthrough in financial services for the poor in India

In this short video Vijay Mahajan, Chair of Basix, welcomes a new customer to Sub-K, Basix’ new agent banking service in Panchlingala, a small village on the outskirts of Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh.

The customer has brought two forms of photo ID with him to open the account, and he speaks his voice password into the agent’s mobile phone in Kannada, one of five languages in which the service works. It is “truly a high-tech solution,” says Mahajan, brought to outlets like this small store where people go daily to buy small goods. Sub K in Hindi means for everybody –and the tagline of the service is bringing prosperity to everyone.

It’s meant to attract customers sending or depositing less than 1,000 Rupees, or about $20 at a time: “Microfinance in the old style way anyway didn’t have any savings in India,” says Mahajan. “So it’s really adding microsavings, remittances, and government payments—three important services to microcredit–and therefore making the whole model viable.”

The new service, like other mobile and agent banking services, including the successful Kenyan mobile money transfer service M-PESA, is intended to enable people to carry out microtransactions safely and conveniently. With this, says Mahajan, “We think we will make the next new breakthrough in the availability of financial services to the poor.”

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