In an interview with Anagh Pal, Chandrashekhar Ghosh, CEO and Managing Director, Bandhan Bank, shares his views on what is drawing the banks' growth, digitisation, expansion plans and more. Excerpts:
What has been the response for the new bank?
It’s been just simonths since we started, and there has been a good response so far. We now have 642 bank branches spread over 27 states, 216 ATMs and 14,000 handheld devices through which we are connected with our customers. We have issued 67 lakh RUPAY cards and recently launched an International VISA Card and we have 74 lakh ATM cards. On the collections front, we have Rs 8,600 crore in deposits which is very good for a six-month-old bank. We are currently focusing on Assam, Tripura, Bihar and West Bengal, and at the same time have branches all over the country.
How is technology aiding your bank?
Our customers can be divided into two groups—the legacy, microbank customers and the new additions that we have made since we launched as a bank. Our daily transactions are on the rise and that is where technology plays an important role. Most of our legacy customers are not used to do signature based transactions; in such cases we take biometric impressions from handheld devices to authenticate their identities. As many of them do not know how to use an ATM, they are now comfortable to transact through these devices.
What about mobile and net banking?
Mobile banking and internet banking are not very common with legacy customers. A lot of education and infrastructure is needed to ensure that internet and power is available at all times for such transactions to go through. Moreover, we are still not dependant on Aadhaar. And in some places there is no connectivity or there are issues of one SIM working and another not. Connectivity is a big challenge.
What is your strength in drawing so many customers?
Our focus is on the service side. The idea is to talk to the people. If service is good, people will be happy. A challenge for any industry is that when a company grows too big, service standards come down. Small is better. But the market is huge. In many of our rural branches, we have 45-50 people in a queue. They want to do banking. Through our NGO (Bandhan Konnagar) we are doing financial literacy programs. We teach about what services one can get, where you can get such services. A physical bank branch gives our customers an emotional advantage and they are able to associate with the structure as “This is my bank”.
Digitisation and newer technologies are mostly for the top of the pyramid customers. We have seen that 62 per cent of our customers are happy to come to the bank branch. We are working towards simplifying banking for the masses. Now that you can pay utility bills through bank accounts, we need the infrastructure to educate people through radio, TV and panchayat on how banking can get convenient.