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ESAF: Rainbow Savings Account for the transgender community


29 December 2022

ESAF Bank in India marks a great milestone in striding into inclusive banking by launching a trans-friendly Rainbow Savings Account, exclusively for the transgender community. This scheme offers a high saving rate and advanced debit card facility that aims to foster the communities’ saving habits.

In Hinduism, transgender is known as hijras, a community associated with religious beliefs and their status is legalised in some parts of India, such as Mumbai. Throughout the evolution of gender-friendly banking in India, the Reserve Bank of India directed banks to separate a column for ‘third gender’ in all official application forms back in 2015. Over the years, India has moved down the avenue of gender equality – decriminalising homosexuality and passing a trans rights bill.

ESAF Small Finance Bank announced a progressive move in September 2022, launching the Rainbow Savings Account which serves the transgender community exclusively. Offers include high-interest rates and advanced debit card facilities which aim at benefiting the savings habit of a marginalised community. Another appealing element of the plan is the default credit of interest to the account.

Serving the underbanked

This product is in line with the bank’s goal to provide banking services and small loans to the underbanked. As Paul Thomas, CEO of ESAF Bank, says: “The excluded community’s savings behaviour will have a significant impact on the expansion of the economy as a whole.”

ESAF Bank has a history of more than 25 years of primarily serving the unserved and underserved, with a focus on financial inclusion and its vision is to be India’s leading social bank, that offers equal opportunities through universal financial access and inclusion of livelihood and economic development.

The launch of the scheme, which was organised in association with Navodaya Movement, brought many transgender people together from different parts of Kerala. The movement for improving transgender rights has spread in India for a decade, and it is high time for the banking sector to join the alliance.

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