India: Stanchart keen to spread wings in rural India

Apr 2008
Mumbai, India, April, 16 2008 - Global lender, Standard Chartered Bank, is gearing up to put in more money in the country's fast growing microfinance sector and plans to enhance its presence in rural areas, a top bank official said

We will continue to work more closely with the microfinance institutions (MFIs) in India and have already partnered with some of the biggest MFIs here," Standard Chartered Capital Market's Vice-Chairman, Thomas Harris, told reporters here on the sidelines of a seminar, on Wednesday.

The lender presently has partnerships with 14 leading MFIs in the country and has plans to increase the number to 20 by fiscal end.

Earlier, Standard Chartered group's CEO, Peter Sands, said the bank would spend $150 million for a period of five years starting 2006, in Indian MFI sector.

In 2006, Standchart had announced a $500 million initiative, with a view to provide financial assistance to MFIs in emerging markets primarily from Asia and Africa.

Harris said the Reserve Bank should take a more liberal view in branch-licensing including those of foreign banks aspiring to operate in rural areas.

This would help to speed-up the ongoing financial inclusion efforts of the government and the banking regulator, he said.

"The regulatory environment is absolutely critical...The regulator should encourage lenders including foreign banks to expand in rural areas," he said.

Stanchart, presently, has 83 branches and 231 ATMs in India and has applied for 40 new branches and 300 ATMs in the current fiscal.


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