Bengaluru:Kolkata-based largest micro-finance firm turned Bandhan Bank is foraying into southern India with branches in the southern region from August.
“We are opening 14 branches in the five southern states on August 23 when we commence our nationwide operations,” Bandhan Bank chief executive Chandra Shekhar Ghosh told reporters here on Wednesday.
President Pranab Mukherjee will unveil the new bank in Kolkata, making it the first to be born in eastern India post-independence.
Of the 14 branches, three each will be in Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana and two in Andhra Pradesh, with the majority of them in the capital cities of Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad.
“As south India is a mature market, we see a great potential for our bank to serve this region with competitive financial products and services for all sections of society,” Ghosh said.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) granted a banking license in April 2014 to the non-banking financial company (NBFC) – Bandhan Financial Services Ltd – to set up a universal bank with 600 branches and 250 ATMs across the country.
The 14-year-old NBFC has a large presence in the country’s eastern, north-eastern and northern regions with 2,022 branches across 22 states, touching the lives of 6.7 million women.
“Though we will continue to offer micro-banking services to the needy and the laity through our 2,200-branch network, our new branches will offer general banking services with a range of products for financial inclusion and economic growth by providing credit to micro, medium and small enterprises,” Ghosh said.
The bank has hired about 1,000 banking professionals at senior and middle levels to operate the new branches across the country.
“As a grass-root bank, we will serve the larger sections of society at the bottom of the pyramid, which needs money for self-employment, education of their children, especially girls, vocational training, skill development, handicrafts and in making a range of goods at home,” he said.
The bank plans to ramp up its operations across the region to serve more customers in urban and rural areas for greater financial inclusion.
“We believe its every citizen’s right to have access to financial services. We are equipped as a bank to address this need and serve everyone,” Ghosh said.
The US-based Fidelity Information Services is the bank’s technology partner providing software and hardware for its core banking operations.
Besides state-run Small Industries Development Bank of India, World Bank’s affiliated International Finance Corporation and Singapore-based GIC Ltd are investors in the new-generation bank, set up with Rs.3,200 crore equity capital.