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ICICI Bank make huge forays into rural banking service

Written by: Staff
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Kolkata, Jul 5 (UNI) ICICI Bank Ltd, India's largest private sector bank and the second largest bank in the country has launched a unique rural banking financial infrastructure programme to foray into the hugely untapped Indian rural market.

Speaking to newsmen on the sidelines of a FICCI sponsored Banking Conclave 2006 on the role of the banking industry, ICICI bank Deputy Managing Director Nachiket Mor told newsmen that in order to serve the vast majority of Indian population, who continue to live in rural India without having any basic access to banking services, the ICICI Bank had decided to set up small bank kiosks through franchisees in each of the country's 600 blocks in a time bound manner.

This apart, Dr Mor said the ICICI bank, having its asset base of more than Rs 2500 billion, has also decided to set up about 8000 touch point facility across the country.

Further elaborating on the bank's business plans to bring banking facility to the doorsteps of the rural banking population, the ICICI bank, in association with IIT, Chennai was presently developing a unique ATM service called 'Asan' ATM.

He said the pilot project of this unique scheme was expected to be ready within the next six to eight months by the IIT experts, making it only of its kind, perhaps in the whole of Asia, where not only new notes but also old and soiled notes would be handled.

Since, he said, the available ATM's in the country could only handle new notes, the new 'Asan' ATM, when introduced on commercial basis, would be able to handle the huge rural clientele base using the used notes.

Asked about their projected exposure in various innovative micro finance schemes, Dr Mor said since its introduction last year, more than Rs 2500 crores had already been disbursed among the country's three million consumers in rural India.

''We are confident of maintaining this trend during the current fiscal as well as in the coming year,'' Dr Mor said.

To another query, the ICICI Bank Deputy Managing director informed that at present the total rural asset of the bank had crossed the Rs 18,000 crore mark.

Regarding the number of rural branches, he said following the acquisition of a rural bank in Tamil Nadu a couple of years ago, they had so far been able to open around 120 ICICI rural branches in the country, including about 112 in Tamil Nadu alone during the last two to three years. '' We have plans to open several more rural branches in the coming year,'' he said without elaborating the exact number.

Mr Mor also disclosed the ICICI bank's plan to penetrate further into the health insurance sector with the target of acquiring one million policies within the next few years. ''For this purpose, we have already entered into a collaborative agreement with Devi Sethi and his hospital group'', he said.

He also disclosed ICICI Bank's global initiative and said that they had already acquired a bank in Russia, besides opening 14 overseas branches across the globe including in USA, UK and South East Asia. Earlier FICCI eastern Regional Council Chairman C K Dhanuka welcomed Dr Mor and highlighted the invaluable role of ICICI bank in the Indian banking sector.

UNI ABA SP RN1623

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