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‘We provide state-of-the-art, Innovative products in banking sector’

State Bank of India has the largest customer base in the world with 44.89 crore customers

In an interview with Business Voice, Mrigendra Lal Das, Chief General Manager, SBI, talks about a range of issues, from COVID-19 impact on the banking sector to SBI’s relevance in the present socio-economic context.

What do you think of the COVID-19 impact on the banking sector?

The global COVID-19 pandemic has emerged as the “black swan” event which is going to require extraordinary measures from governments across the globe to help resume economic stability. Based on when the pandemic is likely to come under control, several economic scenarios indicate global recession of varying magnitudes. The situation has hit the Indian economy at a time when growth has slowed to the lowest in a decade. In the recent past, there were signs of green shoots of recovery in the Indian economy. However, the global outbreak of the virus is severely impacting the recovery process.

The government and the regulators have responded by providing an economic stimulus package with several measures to shore up liquidity and provide forbearance on several financial and compliance commitments. Financial institutions have taken responsive measures to the pandemic and aim to reduce in-person interactions, downsize operations while providing financial support to retail and institutional customers.

The pandemic is impacting the financial services sector in multiple ways — from business continuity issues and operational considerations to the overall financial outlook. As Banks are mobilizing and taking steps to minimize these impacts, they will likely to face short- & long-term implications on both profitability as well as balance sheet items.

SBI is able to assist various projects being undertaken by the Government of Kerala for the reconstruction of the State which is still recovering from the unprecedented floods and the epidemic that had crippled us in the recent past. The Covid-19 pandemic added to the suffering. The people of Kerala were resilient in the past and this time too we will win the battle against Covid-19 Pandemic.

State Bank of India has the largest customer base in the world with 44.89 crore customers. SBI offers the lowest interest rates on all types of loans for individuals and business people

Social distancing and staying safe has become the new norm. Backed by a bouquet of robust technology products SBI is at the forefront for ensuring safe Banking to our customers from the safety of their homes. Our all in one app YONO (You Only Need One) is an excellent example to this. The state-of-the-art technology products provided are unparalleled in the banking sector. ATM Banking without a card is a break through innovation (YONO CASH). “Cash on Wheels”, a mobile ATM service of the Bank, has been providing ATM facility in flood-hit areas during the recent floods and in the coastal areas extending   from Poonthura to Varkala in Thiruvananthapuram during the Triple Lockdown. With over 3,135 ATMs across the state SBI is ensuring access to cash even in remote and difficult areas.

State Bank of India has the largest customer base in the world with 44.89 crore customers. SBI offers the lowest interest rates on all types of loans for individuals and business people. We are the largest lender for priority sector in Kerala and have provided one-third of India’s education loans. We at State Bank of India are committed to ensure that our customers experience state of the art banking with us.

How is SBI dealing with the current situation? What are your immediate priorities now, in this age of pandemic?

The RBI dispensation for withholding monthly interest on Cash Credit facility and the monthly instalments on Term Loans upto 31st August 2020 has been extended to all SME borrowers to provide financial comfort during the lockdown period.

In association with the Government of Kerala we have special schemes:

1) for returning NRIs (ND-Prem with state subsidy of ₹3 lacs and loan upto ₹30 lacs subject to 80% of project cost for setting up businesses) and

2) for Government of Kerala Contractors (financing their receivables enabling them to utilise the funds without waiting for actual payment of bill by the Government department.)

Under “Atma Nirbhar Bharat“scheme of the Central Government, a micro credit scheme “SWANIDHI” for providing loans of ₹10000- to the Street Vendors for smoothly running their business has been introduced.

The existing MUDRA loan scheme (collateral free loans up to ₹10 lacs, Stand up India scheme for supporting women & SC /ST entrepreneurs by extending

collateral free loans up to ₹ 1 Cr and the Subsidy linked PMEGP loans ( for projects with investments up to ₹25 lacs ) are also being utilised by many of the target group beneficiaries.

By obviating visits to the Bank for availing loans, digital platforms for obtaining loan sanctions have been introduced. The Contactless Lending Platform (CLP through the portal, www.psbloansin59minutes.com) for working capital limits up to ₹5 Cr. Digital platforms are available for e-Mudra loans up to ₹50000- and for e-DFS borrowers.

For meeting, unforeseen needs of funds utilising the household gold ornaments SME Gold loan scheme also has been launched for loans up to ₹ 50 lacs.

For Sole proprietorship units maintaining current accounts with our Bank, Pre-Approved Business loans (PABL) up to ₹10 lacs are extended based on the transaction levels in their current accounts.

COVID-19 -19 has a profound impact on the micro, small and medium enterprises.  What are SBI’s initiatives to support them?

  • Common Covid Emergency Credit Line: All MSME units were sanctioned 10% of their Fund Based Working Capital limits over and above the assessed bank finance for meeting expenses like payment of salary/wages, electricity bill, rent, etc. during the month of May before any other Bank came forward to extend additional finance. 8467 accounts sanctioned for Rs.459.22 crore upto 30.06.2020.
  • CCECL loans up to ₹.5 crore will be provided as pre-approved loans
  • Also, under the easing of working capital scheme, re-assessment of working capital requirements were done based on revised projections for FY 2020-21 with elongated holding periods and reduced margins.
  • In line with the guidelines of ECLGS scheme, ‘Guaranteed Emergency Credit Line’ has been introduced to provide additional working capital term loan (WCTL) facility to Covid-19 affected BEs/MSMEs.  Additional WCTL facility provided with 100% guarantee of NCGTC as per the ECLGS scheme. 23592 loans amounting to Rs.1154 crore were sanctioned in the state till date.
  • For 27380 accounts moratorium in EMI and TL instalments were granted during this period.
  • We have recently revamped the SME delivery model with the intent to widen the outreach more focussed and closer to the borrowers.  AGM SMEs have been posted as Regional Managers for SME branches in every Module.
  • For speedy disposal of loan proposals 6 exclusive Centralised processing centres (SMECs) are functioning in our State.  In addition to these 18 RASMECs are also operational for financing SME units.
  • 103 trained officers are engaged as SME Relationship Managers to cater to the needs of SME borrowers.
  • In addition to these we do organise customer meets, exporters’ meets, webinars, e-Town Hall Meetings etc. for educating our borrowers.

How do you look at the coming back of NRIs?

It is likely that around 4 to 5 lakhs NRKs have returned to Kerala from overseas as well as other States of our country after the outbreak of the pandemic. This will probably affect Kerala, the largest recipient of inward remittance in the country. Nearly one fifth of the remittance to India is being received by the State. World Bank also predicts 20% plunge in the remittance to low and middle income countries.

However, there is a surge in NRI deposit during this year. This is mainly due to the weakening of INR against USD. Remittance from returning emigrants may also would be another reason for the increase in volume.

Our Banks total NRI Deposits as on September 2020 is Rs. 64068 crores, with 5.92% jump in the last six months.

Further, the remittances from NRIs has mainly boosted the CASA deposits of our Bank, which constitutes to 27.38 % of the deposit in the last six months. In these times of uncertainty and insecurity, the NRKs will usually prefer a strong Bank like State Bank of India where their hard earned savings is safe.

(ii)  We are providing need based finance to applicants identified by NORKA, under NDPREM, the NORKA scheme for retuning NRK.

NDPREM- NORKA Department Project for returning emigrants:

In order to help the returned NRKs in finding a reasonable steady income, NORKA have tied up with Major Banks and financial organizations for a loan scheme- NDPREM.

Details of the scheme:

  • Applicants who have returned permanently to Kerala after working abroad for at least two years and have registered with NORKA ROOTS will be selected by the screening committee of NORKA.
  • Total Project cost under the scheme is Rs.30 lacs for MSME and Agri allied activities and Rs.20 lacs for retail trade.
  • Loan amount is 80% of the project cost including capital subsidy of 15% of project cost( Maximum available subsidy is RS.3 lacs)
  • Interest Subvention of 3% will be provided for prompt repayment.

Bank will also provide need based finance to retuning NRIs within the existing schemes.

Your initiatives to improve customer satisfaction?

During the Covid – 19 pandemic, un-interrupted Banking services were provided to Customers in Kerala, strictly adhering to the protocol laid down by state government.

  • As only a limited of Customers could be allowed at a time into the branch premises, shamianas / pandhals were arranged outside branches with arrangements for seating ensuring adherence to social distancing norms. 
  • Hand sanitizers and facility for washing hands were provided near branch entrances.
  • Personnel for monitoring Customer movements and facilitating them for smooth conduct of transactions were posted at branches.
  • Customers were educated on the availability of digital banking facilities platforms launched by the Bank to cater to most of the  Banking services
  • Customer Service Points were kept open to make the basic banking services accessible to all the Customers

Keeping in with the Bank’s social commitments, SBI also took the following initiatives:

  • Masks and hand sanitizers were distributed to Police Personnel
  • Butter milk packets were provided to policemen on traffic control duly during peak summer months
  • At the initial stages of lock-down, raw materials and financial aid were provided to various community kitchens run by NGOs
  • Food packets were distributed at migrant labourers
  • Door-step delivery of medicines was arranged for Bank’s pensioners

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