HDFC Bank, the country’s second largest private sector lender, has launched a digital bank for its small and medium enterprises (SME) customers. It aims to grow its market share in the hinterlands with this.
“It takes away the hassle of physical availability of a relationship manager and makes banking process faster. We expect this service to take off in a much better way in smaller towns and the hinterlands, as it will save time and manpower. It will help people live in the areas where there is no bank branch close to their home,” said Aseem Dhru, head, business banking. This comes at a time when the bank, traditionally known for its retail (individual) offerings, has started focusing on growing its corporate book. With this, the bank has managed to cross the Rs 1-lakh-crore mark in its corporate book for the first time in FY16, more than double the Rs 47,000 crore three years ago. However, on the business banking side, the bank had seen some pressure on asset quality and had checked the growth in the last few quarters. Dhru said despite this, the bank has been growing its business banking book at a faster pace than its peers.
“At the end of December 2015, lending to SME sector has seen de-growth by five per cent but HDFC Bank has grown its SME lending by 29 per cent. So, we are very bullish on this segment and looking at increasingly reaching out to rural and semi-urban areas in a big way.”
With credit growth in the corporate sector around single digits annually, banks had reduced lending to the the sector because of their dependency on large companies for payments.
However, bankers say SME players have started reducing concentration risk by focusing on only a few corporate players and have been broad-basing their growth , giving the banks the ability to lend to them more comfortably.