Mauritius: Shyam Swaroop Asthana - «We want to encourage a cashless system»

interview

With new projects in the pipeline, the State Bank of India Mauritius Ltd wants to keep pace with the new technologies emerging in the banking sector.

SBIML is engaging more and more in the digital pathway. Tell us more about it.

In the light of the emerging digital technology landscape, SBIML has made digital banking a part of its journey. It is our endeavour to encourage cashless purchases. We are planning to introduce the contactless cards for our retail customers where small retail payments within a specific amount for the purchases of household items could be done at POS terminals with a Tap-and-Go facility without the use of PIN. Recently, we have provided the new age banking platforms and improved our version of Internet Banking to our customers. This has helped the customers to do banking at their convenience.

In August 2017, SBIML embarked on a major Digital Banking initiative introducing the concept of 'sbiINTOUCH Digital Banking Outlet', where the customers can open their accounts digitally with very less paper work and get their personalized ATM Debit Card, Internet facilities and Mobile Banking Access Rights within a short span of 20-30 minutes. Our customers are delighted by the simple digital experience they get with assistance from trained staff at the Outlet.

We are also replacing our ATMs with Recyclers and already 5 ATMs have been replaced. The recyclers can be used to withdraw as well as deposit cash without queuing at a branch on 24/7 basis. Our Corporate clients can also avail the benefit of the Recyclers and deposit cash by using Corporate Deposit Cards.

We are also in process of introducing YONO App where only one app is needed to take care of all financial needs, be it transactions, managing deposits or applying for retails loans and other investment products. The parent bank (State Bank of India) has successfully launched the product in the Indian market with stupendous response.

To what extent will the Corporate Deposit Card be beneficial to local entrepreneurs?

The local entrepreneurs can use our Corporate Deposit Card to deposit cash in our recyclers on 24/7 basis at their own convenience without waiting on long queues at branch counters. Our corporate customers can deposit at any of our recyclers up to Rs 60,000 per day subject to a maximum transaction amount of Rs 240,000 in a fortnight.

Each year, banks receive demands of SMEs for credit facilities. What incentives do you provide?

We recognise the value creation potential of SMEs for the economy along with job creation opportunity. Therefore, the Bank has always been supportive to SME growth. Over the years the Bank has always exceeded the target set for SME financing. The bank also also offers various products designed specifically for SMEs such as SME Multipurpose Loan, SME Easy Business Loan, and SME Car Loans along with easy trade finance facilities for facilitating export & import activities.

To what extent is the SBI established in Mauritius?

The bank is in operation in Mauritius since 30 years. Our journey started with Overseas Banking facility and has evolved as a full-fledged Banking service provider with a whole gamut of products. The Bank provides various services like customized corporate financing products to its Global & Corporate customers, to SMEs and local entrepreneurs, to all retail customers, to business customers for facilitating Trade; external and internal business and treasury needs. It acts as the best facilitator for FPI clients who are looking forward to the Indian market as their investment destination.

Our customer base is growing steadily and strategies are being drawn up to double our customer base in the next 3 years. With more and more product additions in digital banking space, we are confident of winning the youth and reach our target. All our strategies are drawn up keeping the Customer as the nucleus of them.

"Our customer base is growing steadily"

For the Financial year 2018-19, Rs 1,417,582 was spent under the CSR Fund. What is the programme for this year?

SBIML has indulged in various CSR activities for the past years. We promote social integration and poverty alleviation and our other priority areas are education, health and environment. We support projects from key NGOs such as Global Rainbow Foundation, SOS Children's Village, Caritas and Gayasingh Ashram to contribute in building a better society.

For the year 2018-2019 we have provided motorised wheel chairs to disabled children of Global Rainbow Foundation to help them become more independent, sponsored the running costs of foster homes for SOS Children's Village and Gayasingh Ashram. We also help in sponsoring meal programmes for Caritas Rodrigues. We are associated with different causes and for the year 2019-2020, we will continue to extend our support to various NGOs to help them move forward and meet their objectives.

Indian banks are facing high percentage of corporate default with company owners fleeing the country. How to tackle this issue?

As per the Global Financial Stability report, the industrywide NPA (Non performing asset) in India stands close to 10% with core sectors such as infrastructure, aviation, metals & cement industries being the key contributors. While a part of the cause can be associated to the slow recovery of the world economy affecting the Indian growth, a few wrong selections of exposures by the banks can also not be ruled out. However, the banks have waged war against the NPA menace and the outcomes have started showing.

Also, the Government as well as the Central bank are also putting in place structural policies to plug in the holes. Various measures such as Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code Act 2016 and the Asset Quality review by RBI, are strengthening the frame work and now the NPA resolutions are being worked out on time bound manner. With proper policies and structure in place and the right kind of asset selection, we hope that the Banking industry in India will grow healthier over the period.

How are you ensuring that small investors retain their trust in banks in India as well as in Mauritius?

The stability of any bank is judged based on its Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) which installs the trust of safety of the deposits of small and retail customers. Our parent bank has the Government of India as the majority stake holder and is also classified as Systemically Important Bank (SIB) of India. It is the only government owned bank among the three such banks in India.

Our Bank SBIML in Mauritius, is also strongly capitalized with the CAR hovering around 20% against the regulatory requirement of 11.50% which shows our strength. In our 30 years of history there has not been a single instance where the bank has defaulted in its commitments. The bank has done extremely well during the past financial year ending March 2019 in all performance, financial and efficiency parameters and will strive to keep the same trend for the coming years.

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