ICICI Bank strengthens retail franchise in Gujarat with a range of digital initiatives

Anup Bagchi1

Ahmedabad: ICICI Bank today announced that it continues to strengthen its retail franchise in Gujarat through a host of digital initiatives and a customer-centric approach. These initiatives are likely to help the Bank grow its retail loan disbursement in the state by around 40% to Rs. 32,700 crore at the end of the current financial year (FY 2021-22), compared to last year.

In an interaction with the media, Mr. Anup Bagchi, Executive Director, ICICI Bank said, “In Gujarat, we continue to offer improved products and services through a range of digital initiatives. In this state, our endeavour is to create holistic value propositions for our customers. We are focusing on opportunities across customer eco-system and micro-markets within the state. We have created cross-functional teams to bring the benefit of the entire Bank to all customers.”

The Bank is leveraging its technological prowess to expand its retail loan business at a rapid pace in the state this financial year. The mortgage loan disbursement in the state is likely to grow by 35% to Rs. 15,700 crore while the consumer loans, which mainly comprise of personal loans and vehicle loans, are expected to rise by over 30% to Rs. 6,000 crore. The Bank also expects to have nearly doubled the business loans and overdrafts disbursement to Rs. 8,200 crore.

Talking about mortgage loans, Mr. Bagchi said, “The drivers of our mortgage loans in Gujarat are digital and instant sanctions of loans, expansion in the affordable housing segment as well as micro-markets, and strengthening distribution network with developers for direct loan sanctioning. Our instant home loan facility—the countries first—helps lakhs of our pre-approved customers to get the sanction letter immediately. This digital process helped our customers, especially in the past two years, as they could avail of the facility without visiting any branch. Additionally, we are offering mortgage loans to new segments such as industrial projects, building nursing homes and medical clinics as well as senior secondary schools. Further, we have expanded our geographical reach by making most of our branches, including those in rural areas, equipped with home loans. In addition to Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Surat, we are focusing on the salaried segment in cities like Anand, Nadiad, Ankleshwar and Bharuch. Further, we are focusing on key upcoming tier-three locations such as Patan, Deesa, Mehsana, Palanpur, Jamnagar and Gandhidham among others.”

The Bank has set up five credit processing centres in Vadodara, Surat, Ankleshwar, Mehsana and Palanpur to enable customers of these areas with easy access to mortgage loans.

Talking about business loans and overdrafts, Mr. Bagchi said, “We believe, businesses and self-employed individuals are the backbone of our society. We have digitised an array of services for businesses at every stage of their lives. The list includes industry-first digital services like instant current accounts, instant overdraft facility in three clicks, online title search for property collaterals and e-signature on documents. All these services bring in immense convenience to customers as they significantly bring down time taken to sanction loans. We also offer innovative and first-in-industry products like credit based on property assessment and balance transfer programmes for credit limits, online overdraft on fixed deposits, business loans based on GST returns, digital platforms like ‘InstaBIZ’ app for businesses, internet banking for businesses and corporates, and Trade Online, a platform to carry out export-import transactions, among others. We believe all our digital facilities enable businesses to transact seamlessly and help them grow to their maximum potential.”

The Bank’s expansion focus is on micro-markets like a textile hub and diamond market in Surat, the ceramic market in Morbi, steel, metal and pharmaceuticals industries in Ahmedabad and paper industries in Vapi. To drive this growth, the Bank has equipped the majority of its branches with business loans, opened new processing centres in key industrial locations like Bhavnagar, Morbi, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Ankleshwar and Bharuch, and doubled its team strength in the last two years.

On consumer loans, Mr. Bagchi said, “We offer customers digital and instant consumer loans. Our instant personal loan solution enables lakhs of pre-approved customers to get money in their account instantaneously after applying through the internet / mobile banking platform. Currently, 100% of our personal loan disbursement in the state takes place through digital channels. Our key focus markets for personal loans are Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Jamnagar, Surat, Rajkot, Bharuch, Ankleshwar, Gandhidham, Morbi, Valsad and Anand. We have also introduced instant car loan disbursement to empower lakhs of our pre-approved customers with final sanction and disbursement of car loans instantly, in a digital manner. For auto loans, we have strengthened our team and increased our distribution infrastructure in tier one and tier two locations with a focus on cities like Surendranagar, Dwarka, Porbandar, Palanpur and Deesa. Further, we have expanded to a new segment of providing commercial equipment loans to doctors and hospitals for funding of medical equipment like sonography machines, gamma cameras, CT scan and MRI machines and orthopaedic robots among others, in order to support the growth of the medical infrastructure in the state.”

ICICI Bank also collaborates with various government departments to facilitate digital services for the citizens of the state. These include digital solutions for the collection of trade licenses, property tax, tender fees, property allotment fees, utility (like electricity, water) bills, online booking of tickets and passes for transit services.

The Bank runs a retail network of over 1,250 touchpoints—comprising of 390 branches and over 860 ATMs—in the state. Of the 390 branches, over 50% are located in semi-urban and rural areas. The Bank has a network of 12,700 Business Correspondents (BCs) in the state. We provide banking services in nearly 130 villages, which were hitherto unbanked.

Empowering rural areas in Gujarat

ICICI Bank has undertaken several initiatives to empower the rural population of the state. Through its Self Help Group (SHG) programme, a major initiative among private-sector lenders in the state, the Bank is supporting the entrepreneurial spirit of rural women. The Bank has cumulatively disbursed loans to over 4,600 SHGs comprising about 46,000 women across the state. The SHGs are engaged in an array of activities such as weaving, milk pouring business, selling vegetables, running kirana shops and selling garments. ICICI Bank has appointed some SHG members as Business Correspondents (BCs) to provide banking services in gram panchayats. The Bank has also opened over two lakh PMJDY zero balance accounts for the underprivileged in the state.

In the rural segment, the Bank offers loans to farmers for their crops, procuring tractors and other farm equipment to facilitate farming and allied activities. Additionally, the Bank has expanded its ambit of lending solutions to farmers engaged in agriculture, horticulture, post-harvest processing, storing facility and transportation. The Bank has a special focus in locations like Saurashtra, Palanpur, Patan, Banaskantha, Sabarkantha, Surendranagar and Botad. The Bank is also focusing on farm equipment loans by expanding its tie-ups with tractor dealers. The lending in rural areas is done 100% digitally with the TAB based ‘Express Agri’ application. It ensures faster turnaround time as it reduces re-work and movement of physical documents. Additionally, the Bank conducts financial literacy programmes for rural customers in the state for enhancing financial inclusion.