‘In next two to three years, we intend to reach out to people across urban and unbanked areas’
|CHANDRA SHEKHAR GHOSH, MD and CEO, Bandhan Bank|
Bandhan Bank became a reality in August 2015. Chandra Shekhar Ghosh, Founder, Managing Director and CEO of the bank, maintains that the bank’s focus will be to grow its deposit base. In a little over the first three months of the current fiscal, its deposits increased by 3,000 crore. On the sidelines of a CII event, Ghosh spoke to BusinessLine on the journey (as a new bank), focus areas in the coming days and the bank’s corporate and retail lending operations. Excerpts:
How has the journey been for Bandhan Bank during these 11 months?
In one word fantastic. People have reposed faith in us. And we have been able to build trust. Our deposit base, which stands at 15,000 crore as on date (12,000 crore till March 2016) is proof of that. Loan disbursals stand at 16,000 crore of which 200-250 crore is non-microfinance related disbursals. We have around 89 lakh customers, majority of whom are micro-credit related. Around seven lakh will be non-micro-credit customers.
What are your immediate plans?
Our immediate focus is increasing our deposit base. For the next two to three years, we intend to reach out to people across urban and unbanked areas.
Any plans for increasing the branch network?
Yes. We currently have 689 branches in 29 States. We would look to take that up to 850 by March (2017).
As a new bank, you need to compete with established players in urban areas. What strategy are you following?
Urban growth is faster than rural and semi-urban areas. People here look for variety of products and fast services. We now have that bouquet of offerings.
For example, our current account offering competes with any other private sector bank. Similarly, in the savings account we are offering 6 per cent rate of interest for deposits over 1 lakh.
In terms of services, we are also looking to add a personal touch — meeting people, reaching out to customers.
For us, it is more about giving a personal touch, making people comfortable, rather than just a mechanical form of banking.
In any service industry, personal interactions matter. It may be old-school or a traditional approach. But for a new bank like us, it is very important.
Bandhan is still hesitant on corporate lending…
As a bank I cannot say that we will not lend to corporates. But, there are specific areas of focus. We are open to lending to MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises), and small and medium-sized corporates. We have already lent to Wow Momo (a Kolkata-based start-up). When it comes to large corporates or those in the stressed sectors, we would like to maintain caution for now. Six months or one year from now, we might have a different strategy.
What about retail lending?
Microfinance loans apart, in retail lending we are exploring the housing loan segment in the range of 35-50 lakh. We would also like to tap/ target people who generally go to housing finance companies for loans. There is a big market out there, and as a bank we are well positioned to tap it.
Let me explain. I have been working in a village with the unbanked for a decade now. But, there were other people too with different needs. As an MFI we did not focus on them. But as a bank we can target these people.