Tackling distance with digital agents| Spotlight, Dvara KGFS

Armed with a smartphone, these entrepreneurial agents are enabling access to financial services for fellow villagers

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“There is no ATM in the village and people must travel long distances to access an ATM or the nearest bank. Villagers, especially the elderly, find it very tedious, and it consumes an entire day to access the nearest facility,” says Mangaiyar Selvi, Dvara KGFS digital agent in Edayapatti, Tamil Nadu.

“In this context, it’s very convenient for villagers come to me as a digital agent and use their fingerprints without any hassles. The villagers now treat me as a mini bank.”

Abler Nordic first invested equity in Dvara KGFS in 2019 to support their mission to maximise the financial well-being of every individual and every enterprise by providing complete access to financial services in remote rural India.

Since 2021, Dvara KGFS has been using a network of digital agents across rural India equipped with smartphones to perform a range of banking transactions for villagers, such as bill and loan payments and withdrawals.

Dvara KGFS selects long-term entrepreneurial customers from the local community as agents, which helps in establishing trust and relationship building. Digital agents often run a small kirana shop ideally suited to offering basic banking transactions in addition to other essential village goods and services, and agents earn a small commission from Dvara KGFS for each transaction.

"It’s very convenient for villagers come to me as a digital agent and use their fingerprints without any hassles. The villagers now treat me as a mini bank,"

Mangaiyar Selvi, Dvara KGFS digital agent, Tamil Nadu.

Becoming an agent helps both to grow their livelihoods through an extra business line and increases their standing in the community.

“Unlike a typical bank, which operates at a certain fixed time, the KGFS digital agent is available most of the time and is flexible, which is very convenient for the villagers,” says Mangaiyar.

“Because of my services, I have gained a lot of social goodwill…after taking up as a digital agent, there is hardly anyone who does not recognize me in the village.”

Dvara KGFS’s digital focus is much broader than digital agents alone, and they are currently working on digitizing their entire customer journey. Abler Nordic collaborated on a project with Mastercard and Accion Foundation through our Norad-funded Technical Assistance facility to support Dvara in developing and implementing an omni-channel strategy for customers to interact easily across apps, physical branches, agent networks and call centres.

The project also involved creating a data strategy to collect insights and develop relevant products based on customer needs, and to optimise payment solutions to accelerate the uptake of digital payments among rural customers.

Today Dvara KGFS has over 10,000 digital agents and close to 400 branches across 10 states, serving nearly 570,000 active borrowers.

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