Liquidity is key in Equitas’ new product portfolio
Equitas Small Finance Bank (ESFB) is attempting to make a fresh headway into the liquidity-centric product portfolio in the banking space.
The Chennai-based bank has been taking a measured approach to widen its reach by launching products which include fetching depositors 7 pc annual interest at a time when the pandemic has brought the economy to a halt.
Murali Vaidyanathan, President-Country Head, Branch Banking, Liabilities, Product & Wealth, ESFB, is optimistic about the way forward in an interview with DTNext.
He feels that for deposits between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 5 crore, the new interest option is an attractive proposition. “We believe that this product will offer existing and new account holders an opportunity to save more with better returns. This is designed to serve our retail customers and provide them with the much-required liquidity.” Earlier experiments involving ‘selfie accounts’ and FASTags or even the tie-up with Reliance for insurance have yielded positive outcomes.
The selfie account association with customers had doubled the reach with ESFB acquiring 32,000 patrons’ month on month, against the previous figure of 18,000, Vaidyanathan said, adding the Do It Yourself (DIY) model and other launches have benefited the bank. “We have seen the DIY model now constituting 60-65 per cent of our portfolio with customers in the 25-45 years bracket while senior citizens too account for 20-22 per cent in this regard,” he said, seeking to point out the increase in the digitalisation approach.
The bank has seen a surge in metro and urban customers, while 20 per cent of contribution is from rural regions. “The protection plans owing to our association with Reliance have also risen. We have issued 30,000 insurance policies using the digital bandwidth to complete the ‘meeting to issuance’ cycle of the transactions,” Vaidyanathan said.
Besides general and health insurance, the COVID-19 schemes too saw an uptick as the sum assured is discharged at the detection stage itself. Safety features are gaining more traction over investment as a choice to avail credit facilities. Incidentally, the coronavirus has not put ESFB on the backfoot as the bank continues to hire and launch products tailored to market needs. On the anvil is one such product targeted specifically at women. “This will be out within four months as it covers the lifestyle to life-stage cycle. Working women to housewives currently comprise 26 pc of our portfolio,” he said, explaining that it is not a plain vanilla product.
Vaidyanathan also said the ‘livelihood financier’ foresees demand from many pockets including rural areas, where the learning curve has aided RTGS and internet banking adoption. The bank has not gone on any cost-cutting drive, as it continues to focus on mass market to high net worth individuals and middle class segment. “We have hired 200 people during the last three months besides giving COVID allowances for some roles. Our core activity has been the effective use of digital channels,” he said.
“The digital world has created a level-playing field, erasing the divide between big and small players. The platform has made the concept of universal banking a reality, and the market has expanded by enabling newer players to tap into the 7-8 lakh potential customers,” signed off Vaidyanathan.