Bandhan Bank launched by Arun Jaitley, with a Prime Focus on Weaker Section of the Society

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Bandhan Bank on Sunday began its operations as a full-fledged lender with 501 branches, 1.43 accounts, a loan book of around Rs 10,500 crore and 2022 service centres across the country.

Bandhan said it is starting operations with 1.43 crore accounts, a loan book of around Rs 10,500 crore and 19,500 employees. To begin with, it has got 501 branches, 2022 service centres and 50 ATMs across 24 states.

It plans to have 632 branches and 250 ATMs in 27 states by the end of fiscal year 2016, the bank said. The bank said that over 71 per cent of the branches will be in rural India, including at least 35 per cent in unbanked rural pockets.

State-wise, West Bengal has the maximum number of branches at 220, followed by Bihar (67), Assam (60), Maharashtra (21), Uttar Pradesh and Tripura (20 each), and Jharkhand (15).

The Kolkata-headquartered bank has two divisions – micro banking and general banking – and will offer complete retail financial solutions, including a variety of savings and loan products.

Chandra Shekhar Ghosh, founder, managing director and CEO of Bandhan Bank, said, “Our business philosophy is ‘customer first’. We are a universal bank and we will have equal respect all our customers – big and small. Today, all of us in the Bandhan family are rededicating ourselves to fulfil the demand of every Indian – banking as a fundamental right. We are committed to usher in a new era in Indian banking.”

While inaugurating the bank on Sunday, Jaitley said, “West Bengal is known for producing several intellectuals, but no entrepreneurs. The launch of Bandhan Bank will not just boost the growth of Bangla entrepreneurs, but signify the return of entrepreneurs to West Bengal.”

“The eastern states including eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa and the north-eastern states have the potential to raise the GDP rate of India. The Central Government will support any initiative like that of Bandhan Bank that can lead to enhanced growth rate and prosperity of the nation Jaitley said.

West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra said, “Bandhan started with the twin objective of women empowerment and poverty eradication. With a repayment record of 99 per cent, the organisation has been successful in its objectives.”

“Now, the challenge for Bandhan Bank is to push Bengal’s credit deposit rate from around 68 per cent to the national average of over 76 per cent.”

RBI Deputy Governor H R Khan, who was also present on the occasion, said, “Bandhan Bank has been born at a challenging time of the Indian economy. With 11 payment banks and two universal banks being added to this sector, banking space in India is getting crowded.”

“The need of the hour is to focus on cost minimization and customer convenience, digital literacy, partnership to cooperate and compete with other banks, and provide protection to customers by having a holistic approach towards banking.”

Among others, the inauguration event in Kolkata was attended by Atiur Rehman, Governor of Bangladesh Central Bank, LIC chairman S K Roy, ITC chairman Y C Deveshwar, BSE CEO Ashish Kumar Chauhan, NSE chief Chitra Ramkrishna, Kotak Mahindra Bank MD Uday Kotak and IBA chairman Arun Kaul.

Bandhan Bank is the first microfinance entity in India transforming into a universal bank. It received an in-principle approval from the RBI in April 2014 and the final nod on June 17, 2015. Its investors include IFC, SIDBI and Caladium Investment Pte Ltd, a company managed by GIC Special Investments Pvt Ltd.

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