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ICICI Bank, Axis Bank thrive on API, UPI, Platforms

While Bharat Bank unit of Axis Bank will offer tailored rural products with increased physical & digital reach over the next 3 years, ICICI Bank has created 19 industry specific stacks to provide digital solutions to corporate clients:

ICICI Bank has partnered with Amazon India to offer instant overdraft to sellers, including non-ICICI Bank customers, on its portal. The bank is focusing holistically on the merchant ecosystem, both directly and through partnerships. Sandeep Bakhshi, MD & CEO, said in Q2 investor presentation recently: “The Super Merchant current account, which offers various benefits such as digital account opening and instant overdraft facilities based on point-of-sale transactions, has received good response from customers. The bank has also launched an instant overdraft facility for MSMEs registered on the GEM Sahay application through API integration with the OCEN network.”

Axis Bank has partnered with BharatPe to expand its merchant acquiring business. Amitabh Chaudhry, MD & CEO, informed: “We have launched a wide range of open API (Application Programming Interface) banking solutions, covering 200+ retail APIs and 51 corporate APIs.”

With Axis Bank’s focus on Open Banking initiatives as part of the digital strategy, it is committed to simplifying customer journeys and bringing greater convenience through constant innovation in its offerings. Sameer Shetty, President & Head, Digital Business & Transformation at Axis Bank, said: “With these latest API Banking offerings, we look forward to collaborate and co-create with partners, to offer an enhanced user experience and simplify their day-to-day operations.”

UPI Growth: Retail Digital

In the Unified Payment Interface (UPI) space, ICICI Bank’s strategy is to participate directly through the bank’s own platforms as well as partner with third party players, in both the peer-to-peer and payment-to-merchant segments. Sandeep explained: “The value of our bank’s merchant acquiring transactions through UPI more than doubled y/y and grew by 34% sequentially in Q2, 2021-22. The value of transactions through the ‘Pay to Contact’ feature, which enables users to easily transfer money to any payment app or digital wallet via UPI, is about 3X higher in September 2021 compared to June 2021.”

Axis Bank continues to remain among the top players in the retail digital banking space in Q2FY22. Amitabh updated: “Our y/y growth in total UPI transaction value is 147%. Our market share in UPI transactions stands at 15%. Share of digital transactions in the bank’s total financial transactions by individual customers is 91%. Saving accounts opened through tab banking is 71%. Y/y growth in mobile banking transaction volumes is 69%, with market share of 14%. Retail term deposits (by volume) opened digitally in H1FY22 is 67%. New mutual fund SIPs sourced through digital channels in H1FY22 is 48%.

Platforms: Cloud, Supply Chain

The digital platforms like ICICI Bank’s InstaBIZ offer various services such as instant overdraft facility, payment of GST, foreign exchange deal booking, business loans based on revenues reported in GST returns, automatic bank reconciliations and inward and outward remittances. Sandeep stated: “The business banking and SME franchise continues to grow on the back of digital offerings and platforms like InstaBIZ. The value of financial transactions on InstaBIZ has grown by about 80% y/y in Q2,2021-22.”

Axis Bank’s focus remains on reimagining end-to-end journeys, transforming the core and becoming a partner of choice for ecosystems. Amitabh pointed out: “Our bank has taken a cloud-first approach for its digital banking platform having deployed all new customer facing applications on cloud platform since last year. Along with Freecharge, the bank scaled up engagements for its Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) product with 14x q/q growth in number of customers acquired during
the quarter.”

ICICI Bank’s supply chain platforms enable corporates to seamlessly manage their supply chain financing and payments, collection and reconciliation requirements of their dealers and vendors in a convenient and paperless manner. Sandeep updated: “The bank has onboarded about 200 corporate customers on these supply chain platforms. About 70% of the dealers of these customers are active on the supply chain platforms. The value of transactions through these platforms increased 4.7X y/y in Q2, 2021-22.”

Mobile Transactions Up

In December 2020, the ICICI Bank had expanded its state-of-the-art mobile banking app, iMobile, to iMobile Pay which offers payment and banking services to customers of any bank. “There are about 1.5 millon activations of iMobile Pay from non-ICICI Bank account holders in Q2, 2021-22, taking the total such activations to 4 million within 9 months of launch. The transactions by non-ICICI Bank account holders in terms of value and volume respectively, are 3 times and 13 times higher in September 2021 compared to June 2021,” Sandeep added.

The value of mobile banking transactions at ICICI Bank is going upwards. “It increased by 62% y/y to Rs4 trillion ($54.8 billion) in Q2, 2021-22. Digital channels like internet, mobile banking, PoS and others accounted for over 90% of the savings account transactions in H1, 2021-22,” added Sandeep. Amitabh updated: “We crossed 1.9 million customers on WhatsApp Banking within 9 months of launch.”

Contactless Payment

ICICI Bank continues to expand the suite of services offered through iMobile Pay to achieve high engagement levels with users. Recently, the bank launched a facility which enables its savings account holders to manage dues of credit cards of any bank through iMobile Pay. Sandeep updated: “The bank has also launched a contactless payment facility on iMobile Pay which enables users of android based smartphones to make credit and debit card payments on POS terminals in a safe and secure manner by tapping their phones.”

ICICI Bank is the market leader in electronic toll collections through FASTag. Sandeep said: “Our bank had a market share of 37% by value in electronic toll collections through FASTag in Q2-2022, with a 63% y/y growth in collections.”

Corporate Clients

ICICI Bank had launched ICICI STACK for corporates and has created 19 industry specific stacks, which provide bespoke and purpose-based digital solutions to corporate clients and their ecosystems. “The volume of transactions through these solutions grew 2.4X y/y in Q2, 2021-22. These solutions along with the depth of the bank’s coverage have supported the strong growth in average current account deposits,” added Sandeep.

Digital Reach For Rural

After the success of its Deep Geo initiative, the Axis Bank has created a distinctive growth-focused Bharat Bank unit. Amitabh added: “This unit will offer tailored rural products with increased physical and digital reach across branches over the next 3 years.”

Seamless On-boarding

Mortgage disbursements of ICICI Bank in Q2, 2021-22 were close to the level seen in the quarter ended March 31, 2021. Sandeep indicated: “This is reflecting the increase in demand coupled with the bank’s seamless customer onboarding experience through pre-approved offers and digitization. Disbursements of personal loans and auto loans were also close to Q4, 2021 levels.”

Card Spends

Spends across most categories other than travel in case of ICICI Bank crossed March 2021 levels in September 2021. “The value of credit card spends grew by 47% sequentially in Q2-2022, 2021,” Sandeep added.

Virtual Centres

Axis Bank has a network of 4679 domestic branches and extension counters, 10,970 ATMs and 5893 cash recyclers spread across the country as on 30th September 2021. Amitabh stated: “The Axis Virtual Centre channel has 6 centres with over 1500 Virtual Relationship Managers (RMs) as on 30th September 2021.”

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