Saturday, October 6, 2012

SBI clarification on education loan

Mumbai, October 5: State Bank of India (SBI) authorities on Thursday clarified that the application for an education loan received at the Tiruvalla branch of the bank the other day was returned as it didn’t comply with the existing norms laid by the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) and Union Government for sanctioning loans. 

Reacting to media reports, an SBI press note maintained that as per the existing model education loan scheme in vogue since August 2011, admissions under the management quota are to be kept outside the scope of the Education Term Loans (ETLs) scheme.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Banks Plan Common Job Interviews

20 banks may give IBPS the interview mandate;

SBI will not be part of it

 Kolkata, September 26: It may become a lot easier to get a job at nationalised banks. Banks are planning to have a common interview that could open up opportunities in one go in many banks for candidates, who now have to give multiple interviews for jobs in various banks. Public sector banks, which recruit about 30,000-40,000 people a year on an average, expect to save time and cost once this common interview becomes a reality. As many as 20 banks are expected to give the mandate to Institute of Banking Personnel Selection, or IBPS, to conduct the common interview on their behalf. IBPS also conducts common written test for these banks.

Senior bank executives said the governing body of IBPS had come up with the suggestion and the member banks gave their in-principle consent to the proposal at a meeting held on September 14. Banks are now required to get the respective...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

SBI tops ATM expansion in non-metros: Assocham

Mumbai, September 19: Country's largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) is more aggressive in expanding its ATM (automated teller machine) network in the non-metro and semi-urban centres as compared to its peers, according to a study by Assocham. "Unlike other banks, the State Bank of India (SBI) is expanding its ATM network in non-metro and semi-urban centres, faster than expansion in the metros," the study based on the recent Reserve Bank data said. As compared to the 5,783 ATMs in metro cities, SBI has 7,511 and 6,419 ATMs in non-metro urban areas and semi-urban areas, respectively, the Assocham statement said.
SBI's peer in the state-run banks space, Punjab National Bank is the only other bank which has more ATMs in non-metro cities than the metros, it said. The objective of financial inclusion can be better achieved by the usage of technological interventions, including ATMs, and public sector banks have an important role to play in the objective, Assocham Secretary General D S Rawat was quoted as saying.
Overall, the private sector banks, led by Axis Bank have gone about expanding their network through ATMs in a much more aggressive way than their public sector peers.  Be it, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank or HDFC their bias and preference for ATMs is for the metro cities, followed by tier two cities.Among the private sector banks, Axis Bank has the largest (10337) ATM network, followed by HDFC Bank with 9709 such machines and ICICI Bank - 9366 ATMs.
Excepting the SBI, the other banks have to go a long way before achieving the financial inclusion in the semi-urban and rural areas.
“The Finance Ministry is rightly very keen of achieving the financial inclusion of a large number of people in rural areas.  This can best be achieved by leveraging of technology and use mobile telephony and ATMs. Somehow, the public sector banks will have to take a lead in these areas. Even their brick and mortar branch network is wider in the rural and semi-urban areas than the private sector banks,” ASSOCHAM Secretary General D S Rawat said.
He said while a good beginning has been made, pooling of technology resources like the ATMs should be encouraged so that optimum use can be made to the advantage of the people. The ASSOCHAM quoted honourable Finance Minister Mr P Chidamabaram who recently noted how even the trade has not been fully brought into the banking network.
“As was pointed out by the Finance Minister, today traders are not able to deposit their cash of sales proceeds at night in any bank. In the process, they have to keep it either in the shop premises or at home taking the risks of theft and other insecurity issues. We must have technology-driven day and night banking so that a wider section of the informal economy is brought into the banking network,” Mr Rawat said. While the RBI has been expressing concerns over regulatory issues over the mobile banking, sooner or later different technology platforms have to converge and the regulators need to equip themselves to deal with new challenges and opportunities.
The ASSOCHAM said a large number of Indians still remain outside the banking network.  It is because of lack of the organized banking that the gullible people in semi urban and rural areas fall prey to unscrupulous money-lenders. “The institutions of micro-finance did make a good beginning. However, because of certain corporate governance issues, the entire experiment has become rather overshadowed by controversies. The use of technology to reach out to the bottom of the pyramid promises a lot of scope,” the ASSOCHAM Secretary General said.

State Bank of India is now most valued bank

Mumbai, September 21:  SBI today reclaimed its position as the country’s most valued bank with a total market valuation of over Rs 1.48 lakh crore, surpassing private sector player HDFC Bank. Shares of State Bank of India surged 4.3 per cent to close the day at Rs 2,212.6, taking its market value to Rs 1,48,475 crore, making it the overall seventh most valued company.


On the other hand, shares of HDFC Bank gained 3.02 per cent to Rs 625.25. In the process, the market capitalisation (m-cap) of the private bank rose to Rs 1,47,444 crore. HDFC Bank had on July 27 toppled SBI to become the country’s most valued lender in terms of market cap.


Meanwhile, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) continued to remain at the number one position with a m-cap of Rs 2,74,987 crore, while TCS was at second place with Rs 2,55,084 crore value. It was followed by ONGC (Rs 2,50,975 crore), Coal India (Rs 2,34,905 crore) and ITC (Rs 2,05,254 crore). Among the top-10 on the...

Monday, September 17, 2012

SBI may get Rs 4,000 crore capital support

New Delhi, September 16: The Finance Ministry is actively looking into a proposal to infuse Rs 4,000 crore in State Bank of India (SBI) to boost its capital base, and a decision in this regard would be taken in the next few months. “The bank has submitted its capital requirement plan and the Finance Ministry is considering the proposal of SBI for the capital infusion of about Rs 4,000 crore for the current fiscal,” official sources said.


Last fiscal; the government had infused Rs 7,900 crore in SBI to increase the Tier-I capital of the bank. Following the capital infusion in March 2012, the government holding in the bank rose to 61.58 per cent from 59.4 per cent. SBI had raised over Rs 16,000 crore through a rights issue in 2008. In the last SBI rights issue, government’s contribution was in the form of bonds instead of cash.


The government has already said it will infuse about Rs 15,500 crore in public sector banks during the current fiscal...

Banks take e-route to auction bad assets

Kolkata, September 15: Planning to buy a house and want to search for properties on the internet? Real estate portals are the not the only options that are available to you.


With mounting pressure on the asset quality banks are taking the electronic route to list and auction their bad assets including premium residential flats and industrial lands. Public sector banks like State Bank of India (SBI), Bank of India, IDBI Bank, Indian Overseas Bank and many others have started positing the recovery notices for their bad assets on npasource.com.  The dedicated website for resolution of non-performing assets (NPA) of banks and financial institutions even allow buyers to modify their search in terms of geography, asset type and value.


“We have been meeting all senior bank officials associated with NPA recoveries and creating awareness among them about the benefits that would accrue to them if they were to utilise npasource.com as another alternative to resolve...

Employees first, customers second

It’s not important to be called the boss in the work place. What is needed today, especially with a younger workforce, is a sound participative culture


Two years back at the Frankfurt airport, I struck up a conversation with a German gentleman who looked a bit ruffled at the flight delay announcement. He told me how critical it was for him to reach his company headquarters in Berlin to precipitate an “employee impasse.” As I probed further, I realised much to my shock that the “impasse” had to do with a group of young campus hires, who had decided to protest against their manager’s lack of respect for “their space”.


This was getting interesting, so I asked him to tell me about what they meant by “space.” I remember he took a full minute and two to describe the situation, which looked to me an issue of micro-management.


We live in strange times, I thought to myself. When these same youngsters demand “space” at home, we bend over...

Women in Banking : Not moving up the career graph fast enough

Coimbatore/Mangalore, September 14: Bank jobs have always attracted women.  Take any branch in your town or city and you are likely to find quite a few women ‘manning’ the counters. Most of them join as clerks, and a few, as officers. Today, some of the big banks have women at the helm too.


Yet, the representation of women in the executive cadre (at the level of Chief Manager and above) is yet to improve.


According to the Khandelwal committee report on HR issues of public sector banks, till 2009, of the total women workforce of 78,000-plus, only around 300 of them were in executive positions. More than 47,000 belonged to the clerical cadre.


So, why have more women not gone up the career graph?


The challenges


“It is not that they are incompetent, but the challenges of work-life balance coupled with transfers force them to not go beyond a point in their career,” said Usha Ananthasubramanian, Executive Director, Punjab National...

SBI voices concern on inflation, credit growth

Kolkata, September 14: State Bank of India, the country’s largest public sector bank, does not expect an immediate cut in interest rates and Cash Reserve Ratio, as inflation is still high and liquidity at a comfortable level.


“A CRR cut is in the wish list for every bank. Any time when CRR is cut, banks add to their bottom line. But if liquidity is the determining criterion, then I do not see a CRR cut today,” said managing director and chief financial officer Diwakar Gupta on the sidelines of a CII seminar.


Inflation, measured on the basis of the wholesale price index rose to 7.55 per cent in August, driven by higher prices of potatoes, wheat and pulses, which rose due to poor rainfall. “Inflation is continuing to rise. In such a situation, how can a monetary authority reduce interest rate, without any indication of inflation coming down?” said Gupta.


Meanwhile, credit growth was not keeping pace with deposit growth. “Credit growth is...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

SBI to hire 20,000 over the next one year

Chennai/Mumbai, Sept 12: State Bank of India is set to expand its staff by ten per cent over the next one year. The bank is planning to add 20,000 personnel across both the officer and clerical cadres. As of June 2012, the bank had 2.14 lakh staff on its rolls.


A large portion of the new recruits will be required for the 1,200 new branches that it proposes to open this year. SBI is also recruiting to get ready for the impending retirements of its existing staff. Asked about this, A Krishna Kumar, Managing Director and Group Executive (National Banking), said, “We estimate about 35-40 per cent of the SBI’s staff or about 70-80,000 people will be retiring in the next five years across all levels.”


 


Short on clerks


SBI proposes to recruit 19,000 clerks and 1,000 officers now. It had 80,329 officers and 95,018 clerks on its rolls in June. Asked about the higher number of clerks being recruited, Krishna Kumar said that this was being done...

ICICI, HDFC Bank follow SBI; revise FD rates by up to 0.5 pc

Mumbai, September 12: Private sector banks like ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank on Wednesday reduced interest rates on fixed deposits by atleast 50 basis point. The reduction in deposit rates comes at a time when the economy is slowing down and credit pick up is slack. One basis point is equal to one hundredth of a percentage. Last week, State Bank of India had reduced interest rate on deposits by as much as 100 basis points across maturities to maintain profitability after lowering lending rates.
 
ICICI Bank has cut rates across maturities ranging from 91 days to less than five years. It now offers a maximum 8.75 per cent interest on retail term deposits compared to 9.25 per cent earlier. In the shorter tenure ranging between seven days to 45 days, however, the bank has increased rate by 50-75 basis points. A reduction in statutory reserve ratio, the amount of funds to be held in government bonds, by a percentage point is also help the banks lend Rs 15,000 crore more to corporate or retail customers. Deposits grew 14.1% year on year against RBI's projection of 16%.
 
Pratip Chaudari, chairman State Bank of India had said, “As of now, we are surplus in deposit for SBI. The challenge is more on pushing credit.” Also, the cut in SLR is providing some comfort. This is helping banks in meeting the credit demand, which is climbing marginally. Recent RBI data shows that credit has grown 16.7% year on year.
 
‘We could see the private players now reduce lending rates to get competitive as many public sector banks like State Bank of India and Andhra Bank have cut rates on select retail products,’ said a banking analyst with a domestic brokerage. ICICI Bank is also doing this to maintain a healthy margin of over 3%, he added.

SBI to add 1,200 branches this fiscal

Chennai/Mumbai, Sept 10: The State Bank of India plans to add 1,200 branches this fiscal, its Managing Director and Group Executive (National Banking), A. Krishna Kumar, said. The bank had added 645 branches in fiscal 2011-12. The last fiscal was a period of consolidation after the bank had added about 1,000 branches during the preceding three fiscal years.


SBI has a network of 14,127 branches (as at the end of the June 2012). Its dominance in the physical space is evident from some comparative numbers. Its nearest public sector competitor, Punjab National bank has 5,697 branches while its nearest private sector competitor ICICI Bank has around 2,755 branches.


Two-thirds of SBI’s network or 9,400 branches are in rural and semi-urban areas. The RBI mandates that at least one in four new branches should be in an un-banked rural area. The existing branch structure allows them considerable cushion to expand in urban and metro areas.


New branches of SBI...

Saturday, September 8, 2012

LIC's 11% SBI stake makes RBI see red

The banking regulator is unhappy with the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India holding more than 10 per cent stake in State Bank of India, the country’s largest lender. LIC stake in SBI was 11.05 per cent, as on June 30.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has conveyed its discomfort to the bank’s management, according to a top SBI official. “These are two big institutions. RBI is not comfortable with two large institutions having a cosy relationship,” the official said.
A top RBI official also confirmed the development. “Any institution that wants to have more than five per cent stake in a bank needs to have our prior approval, even if the stake is acquired from the secondary market,” the RBI official said. “We don’t want the banking sector to have too much capital from volatile sources,” he added.
The move comes at a time when LIC has increased stake in public sector banks by purchasing shares both from the secondary market and through direct equity infusion via preferential allotment. The cash-strapped government had asked LIC to infuse equity into public sector banks so that these lenders could have eight per cent tier-I capital. LIC had infused close to Rs 8,000 crore in several public sector banks such as Punjab National Bank, Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India, Dena Bank, and Central Bank of India, among others, in the last financial year. LIC’s stake in SBI, however, has been acquired from the secondary market.
Interestingly, the insurance regulator is also unhappy with LIC for its more than 10 per cent stake in several public sector banks, as such a move breaches the single company cap norm. Concerned over the concentration risk, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Irda) has sought details of LIC’s investment in banks. Nearly 26 per cent of LIC’s equity investment is in banks, while nearly 39 per cent of its equity exposure is in stocks of public sector units.
According to the Insurance Act, equity exposure in a single entity is capped at 10 per cent. Thus, LIC can invest up to 10 per cent of the capital employed by the investee company, or 10 per cent of the fund size in a corporate entity, whichever is lower. The capital employed includes share capital, free reserves and debentures or bonds.
As on March 31, 2011, LIC’s investment corpus stood at nearly Rs 11 lakh crore, of which 20 per cent, or Rs 2.2 lakh crore, was equity. Of that, investments in state-run stocks stood at Rs 85,031 crore, while exposure in banks stood at nearly Rs 59,586 crore.

One-third of new ATMs should be visually-challenged friendly

Chandigarh, September 7: The Reserve Bank of India has asked all banks to make efforts to provide banking services available to all. In a circular issued to all state-run commercial banks, the central bank has advised them to ensure all banking facilities such as chequebooks, ATMs, internet banking, lockers, retail loans, credit cards, etc, are invariably offered to visually challenged persons, without any discrimination as they are legally competent to contract.
The RBI has also directed the banks to take necessary steps to provide all existing or proposed ATMs with ramps and to provide at least a third of new ones installed, with as talking features and Braille keypads.
The move follows a complaint filed by the office of the chief commissioner for persons with disabilities, alleging visually challenged persons face problems in using banking facilities. "Banks are therefore advised to strictly extend all banking facilities to persons with visual impairment and other disabilities, reads the circular.
Most banks allow the visually impaired to open joint bank accounts only. Since ATMs are not voice enabled they cannot be accessed.

SBI group requires Rs 1 lakh crore to meet Basel-III norms

Chennai & Mumbai, September 7: The State Bank of India and its associates and subsidiaries will require around Rs 1 lakh crore of capital over the next five years to meet Basel III norms (in addition to retained earnings).  Diwakar Gupta, Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer of SBI, told Business Line this was based on a 20 per cent growth rate, and a return on equity of between 18 and 20 per cent. He conceded that the estimate could vary since growth rates during the last year as well as current year are lower.
The RBI estimates that Indian banks would need about Rs 5 lakh crore in the next five years to get ready for Basel-III norms that will be effective from 2018. The norms, developed in the backdrop of the global crisis in 2008, impose higher capital prescriptions on banks to cater to various risks.
Asked about the capital that the bank would receive from the government in the current year, Gupta said, “The number being bandied about in the press is closer to Rs 4,000 crore. We are reasonably comfortable with capital. Rs 4,000 crore will see that we don’t breach anything.”
SBI received Rs 7,900 crore infusion from the government last fiscal. He said, “We don’t need further capital under Basel III all the way up to 2015. Counter-cyclical buffer introduction may require capital beyond 2015. The extra 2.5 per cent will come up in 4 tranches and the fiscal 2015 may require a little capital.”

Capital conservation
Gupta also said that the bank would continue with its capital conservation strategy (routing SME, export credit through guarantee schemes thereby reducing the credit risk on such assets and also lowering the capital requirement on the loans). The measures had contributed to a 62 basis point rise in the tier-1 ratio of capital last fiscal (one basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point). SBI had a capital adequacy ratio of 13.8 as of June with tier-1 ratio at 9.8 per cent.
He added, “We will try a couple of other levers, but by and large we will improve the integrity around our data and around our ratings better. We clawed back 91 basis points totally last time. Hopefully this year, we will do another 25- 30 basis points based on the same parameters.”

Rating agencies
Asked if the improvement in capital ratio would warrant a ratings upgrade by rating agencies, Gupta said, “It is very hard to say. Our stock is taking a beating. In the short term, markets reflect the mood more than the basics and I think that is the case for rating as well. Asset quality is a problem for all banks and therefore the rating agencies are well within their rights to say that there is enough stress to warrant a ratings revision. But another big item that they said affected the ratings was the inability of State Bank to raise capital at will. Now this has not changed since 1955. Why suddenly that should become an important factor while re-considering a rating? I think it is more a factor of perception than fact. We will, of course, ask the rating agencies to review our performance which is quite strong.”
Gupta said that SBI was delivering the second largest corporate profit in the country and was the largest taxpayer. “That is something the rating agency should also look at,” he added.

No pressure from government to cut rates: Pratip Chaudhuri

Mumbai, September 7: In an interview with ET Now, Pratip Chaudhuri, chairman, SBI, talks about the rationale behind their decision to cut rates as well as credit growth targets and the expected NPA levels in Q2. Edited excerpts:
ET Now: Take us through the rationale behind your decision to cut deposit rate.
Pratip Chaudhuri: Yes. Our deposit growth has been very robust from April 1 to August 31. The deposits have grown by Rs 75,000 crore and the loan growth, including commercial paper, has been only Rs 30,000 crore. Therefore, we thought we will try to restrict and moderate our deposit growth.
ET Now: Are PSU banks cutting rates under pressure from the government even though SBI has been the first to do so?
Pratip Chaudhuri: We don't cut rates because of pressure from the government. PSU banks decide their rates on their own. But while deciding the rate, one has to look at the market and the relative positioning of the bank. We adjust the rate looking at the demand. For example, in our case, we reduced the car and home loan rates thinking that the reduction would allow growth in the loan book for cars and homes.
ET Now: But many banks have revised their credit growth targets in light of low demand. Is there is a similar thought at SBI as well?
Pratip Chaudhuri: These targets are not our own. The targets are largely determined and shaped by the volumes you see. It is very easy to move the credit growth target up, but where are the deposits? Similarly, if you get more deposits and there is not enough traction in the credit market, then you have to calibrate it down. Therefore, it is always a function of demand and supply. And I do not think the individual target-settings by banks are anyway meaningful.
ET Now: What kind of loan growth are you seeing and sectors will drive this demand?
Pratip Chaudhuri: For our bank, the biggest contributor has been the construction sector, particularly the contracting firms and companies which are doing work for state government agencies. Next are the electrical machinery and the power sector which are selling their produce to the distribution companies. These have been the two biggest sectors.
There was some worry on the iron and steel front because there were problems as far as iron ore mining and availability of iron ore is concerned. The iron ore mining situation is becoming slightly better. Therefore, we expect the steel sector's raw material availability to rise and their finances to improve as well.
ET Now: Tell us about your asset quality, especially in terms of the power, iron and steel sectors. Which sectors are likely to be the biggest contributors to your NPA situation?
Pratip Chaudhuri: The levels can be known with some degree of accuracy only by the 20th or 25th of the month following the quarter, but we are working hard to control these levels.
ET Now: What kind of NPA levels are you expecting in Q2?
Pratip Chaudhuri: Restructuring pipeline is not very different from the delinquent pipeline. Therefore, for companies that are under stress but have real value asset and want to borrow against that, we are considering extending the tenure of the loans or making available more loans.
ET Now: What is the extent of restructuring that you are expecting in the second quarter? Tell us what the pipeline is looking like.
Pratip Chaudhuri: Under the SBI Act, the minimum government holding has to be 51%. Therefore, I do not think it is right for me to comment because the government's holding percentage has to be determined by the government. I can only tell you that the government has left no stone unturned in capitalising the public sector banks. Last year, they pumped in about Rs 15,000 to 20,000 crore of equity to keep the pubic sector banks well capitalised.
Therefore, I do not think anybody should doubt the commitment and ability of the government to keep the banks well capitalised. But at the same time it is important that the banks generate sufficiently large internal surpluses.

Friday, September 7, 2012

ICICI Bank to add Facebook as Transaction Platform

Hyderabad, September 5: ICICI Bank will soon add another online platform for dispensing its banking transaction services — Facebook. The country’s largest private sector lender was the first bank in India to use the social media site to provide services such as account enquiry and request for cheque.  Now it is preparing to take this initiative one step forward by offering transaction services, such as deposit or transfer of money, to its Facebook customers. This is part of its efforts to provide next-gen banking solutions, in line with its ‘Khayaal Aapka’ (your care) philosophy.
Next-Gen solutions: It has recently added tablet banking and e-locker services to its range of technology products such as Internet and mobile banking. E-Locker is a virtual online locker, which can be used to safely store electronically scanned copies of important documents in various formats. Mukesh Kumar Jain, the bank’s Chief Technology Officer, said the bank was working on this technology and indicated that it could come out with this new service in the next few months.
Social media channels will, in the near future, form an important platform for banking services, he told media-persons here today. He was in the city to launch the bank’s electronic branch, Tab Banking and E-Locker services, as part of the bank’s nation-wide rollout of next-gen banking solutions.
Security issues: In response to a question, Jain said security was not a challenge in offering transaction services through the social media platform. He said this platform will not only make it easier for customers to make use of bank services but will also help the bank expand its customer base.
Jain said although mobile banking customers formed a small group today, two-thirds of the bank’s transactions were being done through ATMs and the Internet. He said the ICICI Bank page on Facebook already has seven lakh fans. A recent study by global consultancy major KPMG had revealed that businesses in India and other emerging markets are using social media platforms more than their developed market peers to expand customer relationships.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

SBI for nearly six-fold rise in PoS terminals to 1,00,000 by March

Mumbai, September 5: State Bank of India, the country’s largest lender, plans to take its point of sale (PoS) terminals to 1.00,000 by the end of this financial year, to expand its current account (CA) base. “Our current PoS terminals are 18,500 and we plan to take it to 32,000 by October and 100,000 by March,” R Karthikeyan, chief general manager, corporate strategies and new businesses, told reporters on the sidelines of the Ficci-IBA banking summit.
SBI had engaged Visa International and Elavon as joint venture partners for setting up 6,00,000 PoS terminals across the country. However, this was called off in January this year, over differences on sharing of technology. The volume of transactions through a PoS is about Rs 4 crore a day for SBI, with the average size being Rs 2,800. Axis Bank is the market leader in this segment, with around 2,30,000 PoS terminals.
SBI is the largest debit card issuer in the country. It had about 100 million cards as of June. “We want to leverage this number to expand our PoS terminals,” said Karthikeyan. “This is a part of our endeavour to promote more electronic transactions.” He said the bank would look to Tier-II and Tier-III towns and even rural areas to expand the base.
The bank’s Current Account share at the end of the first quarter was Rs 83,485 crore or 8.1 per cent of total deposits, down 187 basis points sequentially from 10 per cent.

SBI slashes domestic term deposit rates

Mumbai, September 5: Amid a dry pipeline of loans and challenges in managing excess cash, State Bank of India on Wednesday reduced interest rates on domestic retail term deposits by 50-100 basis points. The bank said the revision in rates was for deposits of up to five years. The new rates would be effective from Friday.
For deposits of up to Rs 15 lakh, the new rate for a period of 241 days to less than a year was 6.5 per cent (the previous rate was 7.5 per cent), while that for a period of a year to less than two years was 8.5 per cent (earlier nine per cent), according to a statement by the bank.
Chairman Pratip Chaudhuri said the bank had huge surplus funds and very few proposals for loans. “From April 1 to August 31, our deposits increased by Rs 78,000 crore, while credit growth was only about Rs 20,000 crore. Second, the pipeline for loan growth, particularly for large credit, is rather dry. That is why we decided to go slightly slow in deposit mobilisation, because there doesn’t seem to be enough utilisation of the deposits. And, if we hadn’t done that, it could have affected margins.”
However, he said this might not lead to reduction in the base rate. “This is only to slow deposit mobilisation,” he said, adding the impact of Wednesday’s rate cut on the cost of funds would come with a lag, as it would only apply to new deposits.
At the end of June, SBI’s cost of deposits stood at 6.24 per cent, compared with 5.66 per cent a year earlier. While the yield on advances was 10.86 per cent, compared with 10.43 per cent in the year-ago period, net interest margin was 3.57 per cent, against 3.62 per cent a year earlier. Chaudhuri said with the revision in deposit rates, the incremental growth in deposits may turn slow. SBI’s retail term deposits rose 25 per cent to Rs 4,36,976 crore in the year ended June, while total deposits rose 16 per cent to Rs 11,02,926 crore.
For short-term deposits of 91-179 days, the new rate is 6.5 per cent (earlier seven per cent). For 180-day deposits, the rate has been revised from seven per cent to 6.5 per cent, and for 181-240 day deposits, the new rate is 6.5 per cent (7.25 per cent earlier). On reviewing credit growth estimates, Chaudhuri said, “We have not yet revised (lowered) the credit growth target for the current financial year. We are still looking at 18-20 per cent growth. The first quarter is generally slow. The consumer segment is accounting for credit demand. The industrial and commercial segments are very slack.”

RBI asks banks to issue cheques with uniform features by September 30

MUMBAI: The Reserve Bank today directed all banks to issue cheques with uniform features conforming to Cheque Truncation System (CTS) 2010 standard by end of this month.


The homogeneity in security features act as deterrent against frauds, and the fixed field placement specifications facilitate straight-through-processing at drawee banks’ end through the use of optical or image character recognition technology, RBI said in a notification.


Adherence to CTS-2010 standards has inherent advantages as the security features in cheque forms help the presenting banks to identify the genuineness of the drawee banks’ instruments while handling them in the image based scenario, it said.


To ensure the time-bound migration to CTS-2010 standard cheque formats, all banks are advised to arrange only “multi-city or payable at par CTS-2010 standard cheques not later than September 30, 2012,” it said.


“Arrange to withdraw the...

Retirements will create 1.8 lakh vacancies in public sector banks


The banking industry will need to hire 9-11 lakh employees over the next five years, according to a report by Boston Consulting Group.
The report, which includes a survey of about 14,000 customers, 50,000 bank employees and analysis of data obtained from about 35 banks in the country, said about half of the hiring will be due to attrition.
The banking sector is expected to grow at approximately 20 per cent over the next decade and will need major induction of talent, a significant part of which is to replace vacancies arising due to retirements in public sector banks. At the current rate of attrition, the industry will need to hire over four lakh more people.
“We will hire around 6,000 this year,” said Pratip Chaudhari, Chairman, State Bank of India.
Retirements in public sector banks will continue to increase and peak by 2017. In total, 1.8 lakh employees will retire and will be replaced. Depending upon the productivity growth, the industry will need 2.5-4.5 lakh additional people for growth in business.
Saurabh Tripathi, Partner & Director, BCG, said: “Public sector banks will have to double the current intake of employees to meet the talent needs of future.”

Pratip Chaudhuri said lateral recruitment has to be done with a lot of care


Mumbai, September 4: State Bank of India Chairman Pratip Chaudhuri on Monday said that lateral hiring in banks had led to frustration among existing employees.
Speaking at the curtain-raiser of the Ficci Banking Conclave, Chaudhuri said, “A high degree of lateral recruitment brings disappointment and frustration to the existing cadre and they end up saying ‘what was our fault’.”
Chaudhuri said lateral recruitment has to be done with a lot of care. In addition, he said, lateral recruitment done by some banks at general manager level, except in specialist positions such as economists or law, has not worked out well.
For SBI, Chaudhuri said, there is very little lateral recruitment, and attrition is at the end of career span (after 30-35 years).
Talking about banking in rural areas, he was of the view that employees are not ready to relocate to rural areas. “Mostly what happens is that if you say that an employee is posted at Mumbai, he/she is very happy. But the day you tell them that you have to relocate to Surat or Nashik, that is when attrition happens.”
As a solution to this issue and to boost financial inclusion, Chaudhuri suggested that banks change the way they compensate people. He explained that the compensation structure of any employee was biased in favour of metros.
“I think we need to have a reverse compensation.
There should be a compensation to work in rural, semi-urban areas. In the next wage revision with the Indian Banks’ Association, this would one of the things (that would be addressed),” he added.

SBI car loan disbursals doubled to Rs 900 crore in August

Mumbai, September 4: State Bank of India on Tuesday said its car loan disbursals almost doubled to Rs 900 crore in August, following an interest rate cut. The disbursals jumped to Rs 900 crore from the earlier Rs 550 crore in July on the back of 0.50 per cent cut in its auto loan offering, chairman Pratip Chaudhuri said.


He said the rise in advances has been observed even as the nation’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki’s production has dipped due to internal issues. SBI cut interest rates on auto and home loans in the first week of August, after the Reserve Bank cut the SLR (statutory liquidity requirement) holdings which was preceded by a raising of limits on export refinance.


Both the moves made additional liquidity available for the bank which the bank decided to pass on, without announcing a cut in its base rate or the minimum rate of lending. “The home loan impact will take some time to come, but car loans have gone up...

SBI revises interest rate on FCNR(B) deposits

India’s largest lender the State Bank of India (SBI) on Monday revised its interest rates on FCNR(B) (Foreign Currency Non-resident – Bank Account) deposits available in different foreign currencies. While the lender mostly hiked rates in US dollar schemes, it slashed the same with Euro deposits. The new rates are effective from September 01, 2012.


At the same time, SBI introduced four new currencies including Swiss Franc (CHF), New Zealand Dollar (NZD), Swedish Krona (SEK) and Danish Krone (DKK).







Maturities



1 yr and above but less than 2 yrs.



2 yrs and above but less than 3 yrs.



3 yrs and above but less than 4 yrs.


SBI sees retail loan uptick after rate cut

Following the reduction in interest rate for retail credit by large banks, demand for such advances was picking up, said Pratip Chaudhuri, chairman, State Bank of India (SBI).


SBI, which had reduced auto and home loans, has seen disbursements double following the rate cut. Lenders such as Union Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank, Central Bank of India had also lowered their interest rates on home loans and car loans.


Punjab National Bank on Monday said it would now lower home loan rates to base rate, which stands at 10.5 per cent, from the earlier 10.75 per cent. It also reduced car loan interest rate by 50 basis points. Kolkata based-Allahabad Bank reduced retail interest rates and waived processing fees on retail loans. It has slashed home loan rates by up to 200 basis points and car loans by 25 basis points. The cut in interest rate by banks came after Finance Minister P Chidambaram appealed to banks to lower the rates to kick-start consumer...

Monday, September 3, 2012

SBI Gujarat circle records lowest NPAs

While being on the forefront of the industrial development, Gujarat-based borrowers have set a unique example of maintaining strict discipline as far as loan repayments are concerned. As per the senior officials of the country's largest lender, State Bank of India (SBI), Gujarat has lowest rate of non-performing assets (NPAs) for the bank as compared to other states in the country.
"Our Ahmedabad circle has lowest NPAs in the country in terms of units as well as in terms of percentage to the total advances. While bank's overall gross NPAs stand at around 4.9 per cent, that of Gujarat circle hovers around 1.2 per cent. This is mainly due to healthy industries in the state," said A Krishna Kumar, MD & group executive (national banking), State Bank of India (SBI).
Kumar, who was on a visit to the city on Wednesday, informed that over the years Gujarat-based borrowers have shown strict discipline of repayment of loans. "It is not that other states are not doing it, but comparatively Gujarat has performed well in terms of keeping the NPAs low," he added.
SBI's Ahmedabad circle includes Gujarat state and union territories of Diu, Daman and Dadra Nagar Haveli and has larger exposures to sectors like retail, agriculture and mid-cap companies. "Industries are comparatively healthy in Gujarat. Generally, they maintain loan repayment schedules. Therefore our gross NPAs stay low," informed Ramesh Rangan, chief general manager (CGM), SBI - Ahmedabad circle. As on July, 31, 2012, Ahmedabad circle reported total deposits of Rs 73,254 crore and advances of Rs 29,569 crore. The circle has over 1500 ATMs with branch network of 1230 across the state.
Nationally, for the first quarter ended June 30, 2012, SBI's standalone net profit stood at Rs 3,752 crore as against Rs 1,584 crore in the same period last year. Bank's total advances grew by 18.9 per cent to Rs 916,841 crore from Rs 770,891 crore in the corresponding period last year.
While, total deposits for the bank stood at Rs 1,102,926 crore as on June 30, 2012, up from Rs 950,072 crore, showing a growth of 16.1 per cent. Gross NPAs for the period stood at around 5 per cent.

SBI signs MoU with Japan Bank for International Cooperation to help Japanese SMEs

MUMBAI: The country's largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) today signed an MoU with Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) to help small companies from the far east nation to do business here.
Regional banks from Japan do not have a presence in India but SMEs from that country operating here or planning to enter the market here need to avail of financial services and "This MOU would assist JSMEs (Japanese small and medium enterprises) to meet their financial requirements from SBI," the SBI statement said.
JBIC has been mandated by the Japanese government to coordinate with regard to the needs of JSMEs.
The MoU was signed by SBI's managing director and group executive (International Banking) Hemant Contractor and managing executive officer of JBIC, Kazuo Yuhara, today.

Friday, August 31, 2012

RBI asks banks to post bulk deposit rates on website

Mumbai, August 30: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked banks to put up bulk deposit rate on their websites, to stop banks from offering exorbitant rates to corporate depositors. According to RBI norms, no bank can offer varying rates on the same day at different locations.
According to bankers, some of the banks are offering as much as 200 basis points higher than the card rate to their corporate clients. Bulk deposits are corporate deposits that are generally Rs 1 crore and above with maturity of up to one year.
The central bank’s directive comes following the finance ministry’s effort to discourage banks’ rush for bulk and certificates of deposit, which are of high cost and adversely impact margins. The ministry had asked banks to cut down their proportion of high cost deposits (bulk deposit and certificates of deposit) to 15 per cent, with a cap of 10 per cent on bulk deposits.
About 25-30 per cent of the deposits of public sector banks are bulk in nature. The central bank and the finance ministry’s concern over exorbitant bulk deposit rate comes on the back of banks scrambling for funds during the end of the previous financial year. In March, bulk deposit rate crossed 12 per cent, higher by 100 basis points in a month. As a result, deposit growth in March swelled by Rs 3 lakh crore — one third of the deposits garnered in 2011-12.
The finance ministry and RBI had also asked the public sector banks not to bid for bulk deposits. Earlier this week, Mumbai-based public sector lender Bank of India reduced the rate on interests on bulk deposits in some tenors by 25-50 basis points.

Public Sector Banks, including SBI set out on a talent drive

 "Public sector banks in the country face a tremendous 
challenge with respect to talent and leadership skill availability.
Estimates put the manpower shortfall at four to five lakh."
 
Bangalore & Kolkata, August 30: Public sector banks (PSBs) including Punjab National Bank, IDBI, State Bank of India and Bank of India are altering their talent strategies to focus on performance and employee engagement. The banks are also lining up incentives such as paid holidays abroad, leadership and training programmes at top b-schools.
 
"Public sector banks in the country face a tremendous challenge with respect to talent and leadership skill availability. Estimates put the manpower shortfall at four to five lakh," said Padmaja Alaganandan, executive director - consulting at PwC Consulting. Bridging the shortfall requires focus on fast-tracking high potential talent, she added.
 
The increased focus on performance has resulted in top business schools like IIMs witnessing an increase in executive management programmes taken up by banks to understand leadership, strategy, customer orientation and employee engagement. "Although the numbers of PSBs (around 2 per cent) are small when compared to other sectors, we have seen a more active interest in open programme participation this year," says Alex Manappurathu, chief programme officer (executive education), IIM-Bangalore.
 
At IIM-Bangalore, SBI, Bank of India, State Bank of Travancore, Canara Bank, Andhra Bank, Syndicate Bank, Karnataka Bank are among the public sector banks that have participated in open/custom programmes in the last three years, catering to the GMs and DGMs.
 
SBI has effected a complete overhaul of its talent assessment and engagement programmes. There is a new appraisal system. Senior managers will now have a performance review twice a year. The bank has tied up with Harvard Business School for online training programmes for its senior management. "We are now recruiting aggressively. These engagement methods will help us retain our employees and get more to join us," said a senior SBI HR executive who did not wish to be named.
 
Another bank that plans to provide global exposure to its employees is Punjab National Bank that has tied up with a business School in Singapore to train their middle and senior management on leadership skills. Last year, the bank started a grievance portal for employees called "Samadhaan" through which an employee can mail problems related to promotions, or managerial hiccups to the chairman directly.
 
"For junior and middle management, our salaries match the private banks and our attrition is not high," said Sushma Bali, GM-HR for PNB. Nonetheless, the bank is overhauling its employee engagement and performance management processes.

SBI to cut processing and conversion fees on home loans

With the advent of festival season India’s largest lender – SBI has embarked upon a special campaign to ramp up its home loan book. It is going to reduce the processing fee for home loans to Rs.1,000 per loan irrespective of the size. The offer would be made available from September 1 onwards, a senior bank official told.
With the advent of festival season India's largest lender - the State Bank of India (SBI) has embarked upon a special campaign to ramp up its home loan book. It is going to reduce the processing fee for home loans to Rs.1000 per loan irrespective of the size. The offer would be made available from September 01 onwards, a senior bank official told.
Currently, loan processing is at 0.25% of the loan amount subject to a cap of Rs 6,500 for loans upto Rs.75 lakhs. For any higher loan amount, the maximum fee ceiling is Rs.10,000.  For example, if you apply for a loan of Rs. 20 lakhs, you need to pay a processing charge of Rs.1000/- With the new offer, it will be uniform at Rs.1,000 for a home loan. However, the offer would end on 30th November, 2012.
At the same time, the banking behemoth is actively mulling reduction in conversion fee which is presently at 1%. For all banks, conversion fees are in the range of 0.50-2%. This move, if implemented, will help the existing (SBI) home loan customers, who are not entitled to get the benefit of reduced interest rates to avail of the lowered interest rates. Let’s assume the loan size is Rs.30 lakhs and a customer has already repaid Rs.10 lakhs. Therefore, he has to pay Rs.20,000/-(i.e. 1% of 30-10 lakhs) one-time upfront for the conversion.
Earlier, SBI cut the interest rates on home and auto loans by over 50 basis points, effective from August 07. However, it did not change the base rate (remains at 10% p.a), the benchmark rate below which the Reserve Bank of India does not allow any bank to lend. Now, a home loan borrower can avail of a home loan with interest at 10.25% as against 10.75% prior to the rate cut, for a ticket size of Rs 30 lakhs. The interest rate will be 10.40% for loans above Rs. 30 lakhs. The EMI on Home Loan tenor of 30 years is Rs.897 per lakh which is the lowest in the market.
However, the new rates are available only to the new customers. So, a customer who had taken a loan at a higher floating rate viz. 11.25% will be keen to avail the benefit of the current lower rate. So, he can convert his loan to the new rate by paying the conversion fee. "Those proposed moves by RBI will certainly benefit customers, who should tap opportunities right in time. However, the bank cannot just keep on doing this beyond a point as it may hurt their margins," said Anil Rego, CEO and founder, Rights Horizons, a Bangalore based advisory firm.
With 26% market share, SBI continues to be the leader in home loan market followed by the privately held housing finance company- HDFC.  "We have got some surplus funds after RBI cut statutory liquidity ratio by 1% to 23%. We have decided to utilize it in expanding our retail business. The Bank is aiming at 20-25% growth in its home loan portfolio. As the country's largest bank, we have a vital role to play in supporting the economy", said the official.
As of July, SBI's home loan portfolio stood at around Rs 1.06 lakh plus crores. Total retail loans stood at Rs 1.86 lakh crores in the April-June quarter. To facilitate home loan borrowers, it is planning to upload the list of housing projects, approved by the bank shortly.  The bank has tied up with 1,046 such projects across India till July in 2012-13. In order to enlist its projects, a builder has to meet certain norms prescribed by SBI. For listed projects, the bank sanctions home loans in 4-5 days while it takes around 14 days to approve a home loan for other housing constructions. The lender offers a loan to value (LTV) of 90% for home loans upto Rs 20 lakhs and upto 80% for loans above Rs 20 lakhs.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Seek more time to repay corporate loans: SBI

Kolkata, August 29: “The other day, we received a (loan) proposal for setting up a hotel, with a repayment period of eight to nine years. I told my officers ask this gentleman to take the loan for 12-13 years...Our advice is in the future, whenever you are applying for a loan, try to negotiate for a longer repayment tenure,” said Chairman Pratip Chaudhuri.

Such advice is aimed at capping a further rise in the bank’s restructured loan portfolio. In 2011-12, SBI’s restructured loan portfolio nearly doubled to Rs 8,093 crore from Rs 4,979 crore a year earlier. In the quarter ended June, the bank restructured loans worth Rs 564 crore. At the end of June, SBI’s total restructured loan portfolio stood at Rs 36,904 crore. Of these, loans worth Rs 7,373 crore were classified as non-performing assets. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has proposed tough norms for loan restructuring, and if the new rules are implemented, the provision burden on the bank would rise, eroding its profitability further.

Chaudhuri added SBI would not penalise its borrowers if they wanted to pre-pay loans ahead of the repayment schedule. “In the current scenario, with the rules RBI has proposed, it is difficult to increase the tenure after the loan is sanctioned. It would increase the burden on the bank. So, we are telling our customers to negotiate for more time. If one is able to repay ahead of the schedule, it is fine — there would be no penalty for pre-payment,” he said.

However, most banks were reluctant to agree. “The repayment period is based on the projected cash flow. The schedule is fixed after making a conservative assessment of the earnings, and taking into consideration the risk factor. We have no immediate plans to deviate from this practice,” said the chairman and managing director of a Mumbai-based public sector bank, requesting anonymity.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

SBI officers protest against 7-day schedule

Lucknow, August 28: Officers of the State Bank of India held a demonstration in front of the bank's local head office on Tuesday to oppose the reported move of the bank's management for introducing seven-day banking in SBI.
Addressing the meeting, BK Awasthi, general secretary of State Bank of India Officers' Association said that in the present times when services of alternate channels like ATM, internet banking and mobile banking etc are available to customers, introduction of seven-day banking is not feasible. The move will not only adversely affect the staff of the bank but also drain out the valuable energy resource of the country.
He said that central government offices, secretariat and apex banks like RBI, Nabard etc are having 5-day week, where no difficulty is being experienced at their end. Besides employees' organisations in the banking industry are pleading for a 5-day week in the banking industry and the proposal is pending with the Indian Banks' Association, he added.

RBI to launch Rs 1,000 notes with Re symbol, more security

Mumbai, August 28: RBI today said it will soon launch Rs 1,000 denomination banknotes with rupee symbol, and improved security features. "The Reserve Bank of India will shortly issue Rs 1,000 denomination banknotes incorporating rupee symbol, with inset letter 'L', in both the numbering panels, in the Mahatma Gandhi Series-2005 with improved security features," RBI said in a notification.
 
These banknotes will bear the signature of RBI governor D Subbarao and the year of printing 2012 will be on the reverse of the banknote, it added. The design of these notes to be issued will be similar in all respects to the Rs 1,000 banknotes in Mahatma Gandhi Series-2005.
 
All the banknotes in the denomination of Rs 1,000 issued by the Bank (RBI) in the past will continue to be legal tender," RBI said.

SBI Card launches online application service 'Click2Card'

New Delhi, August 28:  SBI Card today launched online application service and aims to acquire about 3,000 customers through this initiative in next four months.  "Click2Card is another innovative service offering and is in line with our digital roadmap. This new platform will offer significant customer benefits, the primary being convenience," SBI Cards & Payment Services CEO Kadambi Narahari said here.
The company, which is the country's second largest credit card issuer and promoted by State Bank of India and GE Capital, aims to acquire 3,000 customers via online mode by December this year. The company, which has issued about 23 lakh cards aim to open 25,000 accounts next year through online mode, he said.
Last year, the company opened 4 lakh accounts through all distribution channels, he said, adding, SBI Card intends to add 5.6 lakh card in the current fiscal. Targeted at the Internet-savvy customers across India, who are increasingly transacting on the Internet, Narahari said, Click2Card allows customers to enter their details on a specially designed secure web interface.
The customer's application for a credit card is approved, declined or referred on the basis of the credit history with the credit bureau and the SBI Card risk and policy norms, he said. The customer has a real-time experience, and is updated on the status of his or her request instantly, he said, adding that for all approved or referred applications, the system sends back a soft approval (approval in principle) and the assigned credit limit. Subsequently, the customer is contacted by SBI Cards representatives to complete the documentation requirement. The documents and the information provided on the online platform need to match with those provided to the representative.

Chakrabarty had same views on CRR as a banker: SBI chief

Mumbai, August 28: State Bank of India Chairman Pratip Chaudhuri on Tuesday took a gentle dig at the Reserve Bank of India Deputy Governor K C Chakrabarty, who had advised him yesterday to “find out some other place” if he didn’t agree with the current regulatory environment insofar as cash reserve ratio was concerned.
Speaking on the sidelines of an investor conference on Tuesday, Chaudhuri said he hadn’t read the complete media reports, but what he remembered was that Chakrabarty had the same views when he was a banker.
“What I want to say is that it’s just a view. When he (Chakrabarty) was a bank chairman, he was also of the same view (reducing the CRR),” Chaudhuri said. He made the remarks with a big smile, but the message was loud and clear.
Before joining the central bank, Chakrabarty was the chairman and managing director of Punjab National Bank and before that, of Indian Bank.
However, while speaking to NewsWire 18, Chaudhuri clarified his intention was not a complete abolition of cash reserve ratio (CRR) overnight, but to ignite a public debate on the merits of CRR. “My comments are in sync with the views of most of the bankers today,” he said.
Chaudhuri had earlier suggested that CRR should be phased out in a time bound manner or at least RBI should consider a paying an interest on it equivalent to the savings bank account rate if not the repo or the reverse repo rate.
CRR is the proportion of deposits that banks need to park with the regulator. While RBI used to pay interest on CRR funds, but that system was withdrawn a few years back. As a result, banks do not earn anything for keeping CRR with RBI but the negative carry for CRR and also SLR (statutory liquidity ratio) is considered while calculating the benchmark lending rate — the Base rate.
At present, CRR is 4.75 per cent. The central bank had reduced CRR by 125 bps to improve liquidity situation during January-February. CRR is not only used a liquidity tool but also indicates the monetary policy stance of the central bank.

Capital infusion
Regarding fund raising, Chaudhuri said SBI was in talks with the government for capital infusion and he expected the government to infuse about Rs 4,000 crore this financial year in the bank.
The government is committed to infuse capital in the PSBs and retain its stake, financial services secretary D K Mittal had told reporters on a sidelines of an event last year in Mumbai. However the Rs 8,000 crore capital infusion for SBI came only at the end of the last financial year after from the government after dilly-dallying on the issue for the whole year.
Capital adequacy ratio for the SBI at the end of the first quarter stood at 13.17 per cent.
On associate banks’ merger, Chaudhuri said that it was currently not on the priority list of the bank and he could not say if any associate bank would be merged this financial year. The SBI board has already cleared the merger of one associate bank this year.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

SBI chairman presses for abolition of CRR

Mumbai, August 27 (PTI) Making a strong case for abolition of cash reserve ratio, country's largest lender, the State Bank of India (SBI) chairman today said the banks were unable to use the resources more productively, which is lying with the central bank without any interest earning. Though CRR, the amount of capital that banks park with the RBI, doesn't pay any interest to banks, RBI views it as a cushion against any liquidity crisis in the system.
Earlier in the day, the deputy governor of RBI K C Chakrabarty had said that banks had to work in the regulatory environment of the country. "If the SBI chairman is not able to do business as per our regulatory environment, he has to find some other place," RBI Deputy Governor K C Chakrabarty said in a sharp reaction to Chaudhuri's recent comment that CRR does not help anybody and it was unfairly put on banks.
However, Pratip Chaudhari, chirman of SBI also defended his views on CRR saying that when the deputy governor was a bank chairman, he was asking for the same. Chaudhari also said that when the CRR rate was high and GDP was low, there was a strong inverse co- relationship. He also said if CRR is a inflation tool, then other sectors like insurance and NBFC should also have such norm.

RBI Dy. Governor's remarks on SBI chairman are in bad taste

The RBI deputy governor's reported remarks on the SBI chairman are in bad taste. The issue here is not whether the SBI chief has a point when he says that cash-reserve requirements on banks are an unfair imposition considering there is no such demand from insurance firms, non-banking financial companies and mutual funds.
The RBI deputy governor would have been well within his rights in disagreeing. Where he has gone overboard is in suggesting that the SBI chairman can work somewhere else if he does not like the RBI's regulatory framework.
A regulator, especially one like the RBI that prides itself on its independence, should have the tolerance to hear its decisions being questioned by stakeholders. Flying off the handle at any dissent is unwarranted.

Chakrabarty frowns at SBI chief’s views on CRR phase-out

Chennai, Aug. 27: The Reserve Bank of India Deputy Governor, K. C. Chakrabarty, came down heavily on State Bank of India Chairman Pratip Chaudhuri’s views seeking the phase out of the cash reserve ratio (CRR), saying either comply or do business elsewhere.
Responding to a question, on the sidelines of a financial conference on systemic risk organised here on Monday by the Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chakrabarty said banks must work within the framework prescribed by the regulator. “If the SBI Chairman is not able to do the business in this regulatory environment, he has to find out some other place,” he said.
CRR is the percentage of deposits commercial banks keep with the central bank.
Pratip Chaudhuri recently said that CRR does not help anybody. “When CRR is not applicable to insurance companies, non-banking finance companies and mutual funds that also mobilise funds from the public, it is an unfair imposition on banks,” he said to make a point that the CRR adds to the cost of doing business for banks.

SBI chief gets taste of RBI's tongue-lashing

Chennai, Aug 27: His predecessor, O P Bhatt, had spent the better part of his five-year tenure in a bitter war of words with the Reserve Bank of India over teaser home loans and sundry other things. State Bank of India Chairman Pratip Chaudhuri obviously didn’t want that to continue — so his first public statement after taking over in April last year focused on why SBI should not get into a state of perpetual conflict with the regulator.
Chaudhuri’s best efforts apparently have not been enough to soothe the RBI’s nerves and to stop it from seeing SBI as a problem child. A week after he suggested the abolition of the cash reserve ratio (CRR) — the proportion of deposits banks need to park with the regulator — RBI Deputy Governor K C Chakrabarty bluntly said on Monday — Chaudhuri “has to find some other place” if he could not work as per the central bank’s regulatory environment.
Chakrabarty was responding to a question from the audience at a conference on systemic risk here. The tongue-lashing took many by surprise, as it was probably the first time that a top RBI official resorted to such a public reprimand for the chairman of the country’s largest bank. Chaudhuri had said keeping the CRR balance with the RBI was costing the banking system Rs 21,000 crore. He had questioned why the CRR was not applied to insurance companies, non-banking financial companies and mutual funds, which were also mobilising public deposits. “CRR doesn't help anybody and it is unfairly put on the banks,” Chaudhuri had said.
While the RBI used to pay interest on CRR funds, that was withdrawn a few years back. Interestingly, SBI has reduced the lending rate on some segments such as retail and small and medium enterprises and said the reduction was due to a cut in the CRR and not due to a policy rate or repo rate cut. The RBI had reduced the repo rate in April by 50 bps to eight per cent.
Meanwhile, to another query as to “which banking tree needed to be protected”, Chakrabarty, drawing a forest fire analogy, said: “Obviously, it is SBI. It is too big a tree. If you fail to protect the SBI tree, it (the fire) may spread to other banks and it will turn out to be a systemic failure.”

Monday, August 27, 2012

Self-service banking gaining currency

Mumbai, August 26: Banks are increasingly launching self-service banking in the front lobby of their branches to increase customer convenience and reduce transaction time and costs.
Self-service banking in the front lobby of branches enables customers to use alternative banking channels — ATMs, phone banking, cheque deposit machine, and pass-book printer — without entering the branch, any time of the day, irrespective of whether the branch is open or closed.
The per transaction cost incurred on one customer in the physical branch is Rs 50 on an average, while e-banking costs about Rs 10 for a similar transaction.
Recently, ICICI Bank launched 25 electronic branches across 18 cities. The electronic branch, located within the brick and mortar branch, is a one-stop shop for all banking transactions. Among others, it has an interactive kiosk through which services can be accessed by swiping a debit card and provides video-conferencing with the bank’s customer care personnel.
One of the first banks to start the e-lobby facility is Mumbai-based Greater Bombay Cooperative Bank. It is offering all banking transactions to its customers through fully automated lobby banking.
Greater Bank has deployed a single machine called ‘MegaBanker’ in its lobby for 24x7 banking. Customers can use this machine, among others, to deposit cheque/cash (with real time credit to the account), withdraw cash, printing of savings and current account statements, and fake note detection. Currently, Greater Bank has lobby banking in 17 of its existing 21 branches.
Public sector lender Union Bank of India has launched ‘UnionXperience’ branches, where customers can use alternative banking channels any time of the day, irrespective of whether the branch is open or closed. It has implemented these services in 160 branches across 10 cities, with automation through self-service machines. “Today, more than 50 per cent of our transactions get done via e-banking. This saves time and costs for the bank,” said Lalit Sinha, General Manager, Alternate Delivery Channel, Union Bank of India.
A senior ICICI Bank official said the bank wants to expand its technology platform beyond ATMs and desktop devices to mobile and tablet devices.
Challenges
Replenishment of cash in the ATM machines and infrastructure are major problems, Sinha said. “Indians are more comfortable with human interface and hence the customer adaptation to alternate channels is slow,” said Narendra Behere, CEO, Greater Bank.

Clerical cadre prone to higher attrition

Mangalore/Coimbatore, August 26: Banks put out impressive recruitment figures in their annual reports. But have you ever thought about the attrition rate in these banks? Shocking but true, in some cases, almost half of those who joined had left within a year.

The clerical cadre has been witnessing high attrition, especially in banks with a regional focus. Bank unions say the attrition rate is nearly 30 per cent in both the officer and clerical cadres.

D N Prakash, President of Corporation Bank Officers’ Organisation, said that the attrition level in the clerical cadre was as high as 45 per cent in a bank at one point of time.

Ask for the reasons, and you get several of them.

According to Prakash, some banks have branches only in particular geographical locations, unlike big public sector banks such as State Bank that have branches across the country. Some of the South-based banks have less presence in the northern region, but most of the new recruits in these banks are from the North. The banks find it difficult to place the new employees in States of their choice. This is one of the reasons why most of them don’t stick on for more than a year.

P R Karanth, Joint Secretary of AIBEA, says that someone who joins bank ‘A’ in the clerical cadre usually gets a good offer from bank ‘B’ in the officer cadre after two-three years. Even if the banks impose any bond during their appointment, they are ready to pay and leave.

To address this, K S Bhat, Secretary of the Syndicate Bank Staff Association, said that weightage should be given to those who work in bank ‘A’ while filling vacancies in the officer cadre.

He said a person from clerical cadre had passed IBPS with 167 marks in his bank. But the cut-off for officers’ cadre was 168 marks. But he got an officers job in bank ‘B’, where he matched the cut-off marks.

Some relaxation for the existing staff would have helped his bank to retain him. “In this process, we lost a clerical staffer and a person with two years’ experience,” he said.

Bhat said that in some States a lower division clerk in a government office gets a better salary than a bank clerk. Compared to banks, the workload and risks in some government offices are lower.

20% rise in fake notes in a year, says RBI

Mumbai, August 26: Fake notes are rising at an alarming rate. According to the RBI, the number of counterfeit notes detected in India jumped by 20% in the period between 2010-11 (435,607) and 2011-12 (521,155).
Total banknotes in circulation grew by 7% during the same period. But along with the problem, countermeasures have also increased. “Increased awareness among individuals and more note sorting machines in banks have led to detection of more fake notes,” said a senior Reserve Bank of India (RBI) official. Of the total counterfeits detected, 93% were in bank branches.
The number of note sorting machines, capable of detecting counterfeits, jumped from 4,000 at the end of April 2011 to 10,394 at the end of December 2011. RBI has advised banks to ensure that all notes received by them are processed on such machines before being re-issued.
Companies, too, are working on machines that will detect fake notes and the NCR Corporation is testing Bunch Note Accepting machines that function like ATMs, but have additional features of accepting cash from individuals and detecting counterfeits.

SBI management mulling working Sundays to improve efficiency

Mumbai: Country's largest lender State Bank of India may have its branches open on Sundays to help improve efficiency, a top bank official has said.
"Possibly we would like to see Sunday working which would increase the time available for doing banking and increase the business," bank chairman Pratip Chaudhuri told analysts on a conference call organised by the brokerage Edelweiss Securities.
The bank had last year taken everybody by surprise by opting to keep all its branches open on October 2 to compensate for a day's business loss due to a technical snag.
The bank management was happy with the foot falls and the staff turnout at the branches at that time in spite of it being a Sunday as well as a national holiday - Gandhi Jayanti.
Notably, many private banks, which control only a minority share in the banking operations, do keep their select branches open on Sundays for customer convenience, even though technologies like internet banking have reduced the need.
Being open on Sundays is said to help the branches attract the new-age working class customers where both the spouses in a household work and struggle to do banking transactions during the week.
SBI, which has almost 14,000 branches across the country, counts on its large chunk of savings account deposits (at over 38 percent) for higher margins.
However, if such a move were to be made, it would be interesting how the bank unions, which had crippled banking operations across country last week protesting reform measures, take to such a proposal.
SBI had carried out widely appreciated 'Parivartan' programme in early part of this decade, which helped it stay relevant in changing times and maintaining lead in the market.
During the call, Chaudhuri said the costs incurred on developing physical infrastructure and network does not hit the bank as much as staff costs.
In order to improve efficiency, it will therefore try to delegate routine responsibilities currently done by officers to the low cost junior employees, he said.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Rs 4,000-cr capital infusion on cards: SBI chief

State Bank of India expects Rs 4,000 crore capital infusion from the Union Government this fiscal. The bank will be discussing the matter with the Government this week, said Pratip Chaudhuri, Chairman, SBI.
The bank had earlier this year received close to Rs 8,000 crore from the Government.
“They (the Government) have called us for a meeting which should happen this week, and possibly another Rs 4,000 crore looks to be on the horizon,” he said.
As on June 30, 2012, the bank’s capital adequacy ratio stood at 13.17 per cent.
Non-performing assets
According to Chaudhuri, NPA (non-performing asset) concerns were slightly overplayed. “We should not see ghosts in NPAs,” he said, and added SBI has already taken several measures to bring down its NPAs.
“We are asking companies having non-core assets to sell them and bring the cash. If the company is short of capital, we are asking them to get some private equity or get equity investors, and if the company is asset free and cash poor, we are positioning more loans,” he said.
Recently, SBI appointed 20 credit appraisal experts from leading public sector companies to deal with the technical aspects of its new projects.

ICICI Bank launches 25 e-branches

Mumbai, August 23: Private sector lender ICICI Bank announced the launch of 25 electronic branches and other technology-based banking solutions here on Thursday. The 24x7 electronic branching facilities will offer cash and cheque deposit machines with instant credit, interactive kiosks with phone and internet banking services and video conferencing among others. The investment and cost-benefit-accruals relating to the initiative were not disclosed.
Other initiatives include ‘tab banking’ that allows opening an account on a tablet without visiting the bank branch and e-locker facility that helps customers to electronically save scanned copies of their important documents and other value-added services at the ATMs. Charges on the e-locker services will be decided on the basis of the usage of the customers.
At present, the 25 branches have been rolled out across 18 locations including metros and Tier II cities. “About a third of our customers are using Internet banking services....These services will be complimentary to our physical branches,” said MD and CEO, Chanda Kochhar, ICICI Bank. “Today, handheld devices like mobile phones and tablet segment is growing at over 100 per cent every year as compared to the 20 per cent growth in desktops. We want to expand our technology beyond ATMs and desktop devices,” Kochhar said.

SBI chief wants NPA rules tweaked

Kolkata, August 23: State Bank of India (SBI) chairman has called for a change in non-performing assets’ (NPAs) norms. “There is a need to change the norms relating to NPAs. We should not see a ghost in everything,” said Pratip Chaudhuri.
“For instance, a company has taken a two-year loan to install a machinery. If it fails to repay in two years, just because the repayment has been stretched beyond its original schedule, we should not consider it as an NPA. Nowhere in the world such a yardstick is applied. We need to see if the machinery equipment is sound and capable of generating good output.” The bank chief made these comments to reporters on the sidelines of a banking seminar organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
The country’s largest commercial bank saw a surge in bad loans in the first three months of this financial year. The bank added close to Rs 7,500 crore of bad loans on a gross basis during the quarter, prompting investors to sell its shares. Its gross NPA ratio was at 4.99 per cent, while net NPA ratio was at 2.22 per cent at the end of June 2012.
Chaudhuri also said concerns over SBI’s credit quality was “largely overplayed” and the bank will see an improvement in the health of its assets from the July-September quarter. “Our quarterly profit was more than most public sector enterprises’ but our stock got a huge battering because of our NPA. We have done an analysis of the situation. NPAs are largely in the mid-corporate and SME sectors. But with a little consideration, a little understanding and stretching the repayment period, most of these accounts can be upgraded,” Chaudhuri said.
The chairman of the banking behemoth said there would soon be an improvement in the NPA numbers. “We accept the reality, but still, I think, NPA concerns are largely overplayed. In the next two to three quarters, our NPA management will be much better. Current trends do not indicate any increase in our NPAs. In fact, there could be a contraction in our NPAs in this quarter,” he added.
The bank has asked some of its borrowers to sell non-core assets to improve cash flow. If a company is short of capital, SBI is ensuring that the firm takes steps to strengthen its capital base. “If the company is asset-rich but cash-poor, we are positioning more loans to them,” said Chaudhuri. SBI has also appointed 20 senior executives from various public sector enterprises to review the technical aspects of industrial projects before sanctioning fresh loans against them.