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Digital pumps up biz at RRBs

Regional rural banks are good at achieving targets of FI and social security schemes in the hinterland of the states:

Digital pumps up biz at RRBs

Uttarakhand Gramin Bank (UGB), sponsored by the State Bank of India is the second largest bank of Uttarakhand in terms of branch network. Its area of operation is spread with a network of 288 branches covering all 13 districts. UGB has 217 rural branches, 41 semi-urban branches & 30 urban branches.

Hari Har Patnaik, Chairman, UGB, informs: “After a gap of 8 years, 2 new branches have opened. We have opened 287th new branch in Byasi, New Tehri in January 2023 and 288th branch in Panch Mandir, Rudrapur in March 2023. We have received permission for 2 processing cells at Dehradun & Haldwani, one SARB at Dehradun and one new regional office in Almora.”

Andhra Pragathi Grameena Bank (APGB) has a wide network of 552 branches spread over 10 districts and as on date it has set up 8 regional offices for administrative convenience. APGB has opened 996 BC outlets &98 ATMs, out of which 3 are mobile ATMs, thereby increasing its reach and accessibility to the populace.

Biz Outreach Widens, PSL Grows;

UGB conducted a specialized SME training program for 64 employees in collaboration with State Bank Academy, Gurgaon and SBI Learning Centre (SBILD), Dehradun in the month of February 2023. It also organized a workshop with the participation of 24 branch officials from diversified areas on topic priority sector advances, NPA management & CSP channel management. It received membership of Credit Guarantee Fund for Micro Units (CGFMU) in FY 2022-23. With a business growth of 10.66% (from when to when), UGB crossed the business figure of Rs100 bn. Gross NPA of the bank has decreased from 7.2% to 5.46% and net NPA has decreased from 3.04% to 1.50%.

Patnaik claims: “Our bank has done significant work in all areas during the financial year 2022-23 to strengthen banking services, provide banking services to remote areas and improve customer service. Our bank has completed 10 years in 2022-23 and the bank’s business stood at Rs102.65 bn with deposits of Rs71.17 bn (9.75% growth) and loans of Rs31.47 bn (12.78 % growth). This is thanks to the cooperation all customers/ stakeholders and employees. Collateral free loan facility has been started. Our bank is providing seamless banking services to 1.9 million citizens of the state through its 288 branches and 624 Bank Mitras and is continuously increasing the number of customers keeping customer service at the forefront.”

The total business of the APGB touched Rs416.56 billion as on 31.03.2023, with a quantum increase of Rs24 bn over the previous year. The bank is offering highest interest rate to the extent of 7.35% pa on deposits for senior citizens for one-year period (6.85% pa to others).

Rakesh Kashyap, Chairman, APGB, points out: “Our bank’s business outreach further widened with total deposit accounts of about 6.76 mn and loan accounts of about 1.61 mn. Our bank achieved a deposit level of Rs197.92 bn & advances level of Rs218.64 bn. Low-cost deposits constitute 37.06% of total deposits with improvement of 276 bps during FY 2022-23.”

APGB has earned net profit of Rs5.95 bn, its CRAR stood at 23.9% and its gross NPA is 1.35%. Priority sector advances and agriculture advances of APGB touched a level of Rs199.23 bn and Rs168.99 bn respectively constituting 91.12% & 77.29% of total advances, as against the RBI benchmark of 75% & 18% respectively. APGB has extended financial assistance to weaker sections to a tune of Rs123.31 bn, constituting 56.40% and the share of small and marginal farmers (SF/MF) outstanding stood at 53.22% as against benchmark of 9.50% for FY 2022-23.

APGB has launched Self Help Entrepreneurship (SHE) program for providing financial assistance up to Rs2 million to women entrepreneurs in rural areas. Kashyap states: “Keeping the empowerment of rural women in the topmost agenda, the bank has linked 129,192 SHGs with outstanding loan amount of Rs50 bn as on 31.03.2023. Our bank has issued 702,644 Kisan Credit Cards involving an amount of Rs85.5 bn. The credit disbursements of our bank for 2022-23 are Rs191.15 bn, of which disbursements to priority sector advances are Rs177.39 bn, agriculture advances Rs145.09 bn, and MSME Rs13.93 bn.”

IT initiatives, Digi Khata, E-FD

UGB has increased transaction limits for mobile banking – IMPS: Rs200,000 per day and NEFT: Rs500,000 per day. It has launched Digital Dispute Management System portal and JanSamarth portal, LOS for car loan & personal loan, new e-mail solution Microsoft Office 365 as well as Uttarakhand Sarthi-Loan lead generation application. UGB has also launched WhatsApp banking facility so that account holders can get key information related to their account. The transaction limit has been increased in mobile banking. Patnaik states: “During the financial year 2022-23, our total transactions were 45.2 mn, out of which 36.5 mn were digital transactions which is 80.75%.”

All the 552 branches of the APGB are on core banking solutions (CBS), paving way for online transactions, anywhere in the operational area of the bank to its customers. The bank has implemented numerous latest technological initiatives – APGB Digi Khata, BHIM QR code, WhatsApp banking, e-fixed deposits, UPI & mobile banking registration through Aadhar, dual interface cards, UPI Auto Pay, RTGS/ NEFT facility, internet banking, BHIM UPI, micro ATMs, mobile banking, missed call banking, e-passbook facilities, etc, to benefit its customers.

APGB has introduced Whatsapp banking, Digi Khata and e-Fixed Deposit during the FY 2022-23. Kashyap informs: “Our bank has issued Rupay Cards to 1.65 mn customers and provided mobile banking facility to 0.4 mn customers, as against 0.2 mn in the previous year. We opened 11,466 accounts under Digi Khata with a total amount of Rs12 mn. We have mobilized an amount of Rs106.3 mn through e-fixed deposit. We have provided internet banking facility to 97,062 customers, as against 29,629 in previous year.”

FI, Social Security Schemes

UGB has conducted 434 DFLAP, 203 VLP and 31 Nukkad Natak in FY 2022-23. One more Corporate BC has been empanelled in the last FY. It has been actively participating in social security schemes viz., PMJJBY, PMSBY and APY. During the last FY, UGB has mobilized 118,508 enrollments under PMSBY against the target of 111,940 and 72,723 new enrollments under PMJJBY against the target of 73,340. It has enrolled 28,702 APY against the target of 22,880 enrollments allocated by the PFRDA/DFS.

APGB is proud to proclaim that it is effectively executing financial inclusion in compliance with the directives of the government, and covered 2775 villages allotted to it. Furthermore, it has conducted 1820 financial literacy awareness programs in all villages under the aegis of NABARD for enlightenment of the rural clientele on banking during FY 2022-23. All BCs are equipped with AEPS & RuPay card transactions, SB and PMJDY account opening, RD account opening through Micro ATM. The residents are using these services, and APGB’s BCs are rendering door-to-door services without necessitating a visit to the bank branch.

The bank is proactively implementing the social security schemes initiated by the government of India. APGB is promoting enrollment of maximum number beneficiaries under social security schemes Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyothi Bima Yojana (PMJJBY), Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) and Atal Pension Yojana (APY) to pass the benefit to the unorganized economic group.

Kashyap updates: “We have successfully enrolled 643,145 customers under PMJJBY, 1,517,746 customers under PMSBY and 250,970 customers under APY. The bank opened 257,263 SB accounts during the last FY and covered the uncovered persons in the operational area of the bank. Our bank has opened 994,276 accounts under PMJDY scheme and has mobilized deposits to the tune of Rs3.77 bn. In recognition of the bank’s exceptional performance in the APY, we have received many awards from the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) during FY 2022-23.”

APGB’s commitment to its social responsibility is evident through these initiatives, and it is committed to further enhancing its outreach to the marginalized sections of the society. Kashyap adds: “Our bank has also established Aadhaar Enrolment Centres in 55 branches as per the government of India / UIDAI’s directives to provide enrollment/update facilities to the residents.”

The Way Forward In Current FY

For banking and finance industries, connectivity is more important than it has ever been, with secure and reliable connectivity being critical. Communications need to be assured not just for ATMs and PoS transactions, but also between the institution’s headquarters, data centres and branches. There is a constant demand for more sites and more bandwidth to support the operational data and financial transactions in these networks. Additionally, innovations such as mobile payments and mobile banking are shifting the focus from the traditional financial institutions network towards connectivity-based applications, especially in emerging markets. UGB is aiming VSAT Connectivity for its dark/remote branches.

Patnaik reveals: “In the current financial year 2023-24, my wish is that we will achieve new dimensions by making banking facilities reach every home. We are confident that we will work as a team and continue to provide continuous and uninterrupted services as the leading bank of the state to contribute to the economy of the state.”

APGB has planned certain thrust areas for the current FY 2023-24. Kashyap reveals: “Our bank is aiming at a business level of Rs455 bn by 31.03.2024. We are aiming for 38% of CASA deposits out of total deposits during the year, with a special emphasis on mobilization of deposits in the form of normal SB accounts, basic savings bank deposit accounts, recurring deposit accounts, retail term deposits etc. Our bank is also aiming to further improve digital transformation by introducing digital lending, social banking, cash withdrawal through UPI, etc.”

For APGB, the emphasis will be on improving the agricultural term loans, MSME & housing loan portfolios. Kashyap adds: “Recovery of loans will be the major priority for the bank during the current financial year as the prompt repayment would enable the farmers to get the benefit of incentive in interest.”

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