Mumbai, November 28: Akodara, a small  village in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat hit the headlines earlier this month when a project inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi reaped rich dividends post demonetisation. Whilst the entire country rushed to Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and banks, this completely cashless village enjoyed life as usual.Also Read - Unaware of Demonetisation, Visually Challenged Beggar Seeks Exchange of RS 65,000 Life Savings

The village was adopted by the banking giant ‘ICICI’ after a suggestion by PM Modi and  turned Akodara into a ‘digital village’ in 2015. After the measure was adopted, ICICI  ensured that every household has at least one mobile phone. These handsets are used for mobile transactions in the village through which everyday dealings are conducted. The benefits of the village being cashless became truly evident, when post demonetisation, whilst every ATM in the country, witnessed serpentine queues, the sole ATM in Akodara had no queue at all. Also Read - Rs 10 Lakhs Cash Including Demonetised Notes Recovered from Deceased Beggar's Home in Tirumala

The success of the programme has inspired its further extension. In the latest bit of good news, ICICI has announced that it will  transform 100 villages into ‘ICICI Digital Villages’ within 100 days. According to a statement issued by the banking giant, the selected villages,  will be spread across the country. The program will enable villagers to use digital channels for banking and payments transactions. Also Read - Rs 2,000 Notes Not Printed in Last 2 Years! Here's What Govt Said About The Rs 2,000 Currency Notes

In the wake of government’s policy of demonetisation, turning cashless will reduce the burden on villagers by allowing them to use digital channels for banking and payments transactions. Further, the bank will ensure that the villagers will be able to open bank accounts using Aadhar-based e-KYC and make cashless payments to retail stores through a unique SMS/USSD-based mobile solution.

The hugely ambitious project will also ensure that 10,000 underprivileged villagers  receive free vocational training within 100 days. Commenting on the bank’s initiatives, MD and CEO of ICICI Bank, Chanda Kochhar said, “ICICI Bank continues to be a catalyst to accelerate development in our country. We strongly feel that technology can play an important role in putting development on a fast lane. By leveraging technology, we converted Akodara in Gujarat from a village to India’s first digital village last year.Its success motivates us to scale up the initiative in a big way—we will now convert 100 villages across the country into digital villages.”

She then added, “We will create a cashless ecosystem at these villages, provide vocational training to 10,000 villagers in first 100 days and offer them credit linkages so that the villagers can start their own business ventures. I am confident that this large project will contribute significantly to the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision of a Digital India.” If the project is indeed successful, villages in India, will have made a huge leap leaving the cities to their demonetisation woes.