The Gurgaon Gramin Bank (GGB) has been serving this region with a strong focus on inclusive banking and rural growth. The Bank has been a part of the Gurgaon growth story, as it played a key role in the transformation of this City from a suburb into a metropolis. With changing times the Bank has also changed its functioning, and is now catering to both the rural and urban customers. It has embraced technology whole-heartedly and is even considering the launch of online banking - a first for any Regional Rural Bank. P Madhu, a seasoned banker who has recently joined the GGB as the Chairman, says that his immediate focus is to leverage technology that will enable the Bank to expand its reach. The Bank recently launched its first ATM in Gurgaon, and it plans to set up 30 ATMs across the City and adjoining areas. “We have started issuing Rupay Kissan Cards as well as Rupay Credit Cards, which can be used by customers at any ATM in the rural areas”, says Madhu. Gurgaon Gramin Bank, in a first among rural banks, also wanted to launch online banking operations for the customers, but was denied permission by the Reserve Bank of India. Madhu says that the efforts for this will continue.
An important responsibility for the new Chairman is to ensure that the mission of the Bank, of financial inclusion of the masses, gets implemented more vigorously. “We have identified 234 villages with a population of 2,000, where banking services are needed,”says Madhu. This initiative has helped in expanding the banking operations to far-flung rural areas such as Mewat, and other districts of Haryana where the Bank has branches. As far as urban Gurgaon is concerned, Madhu says, “We have decided to tie-up with corporates as well as builders to facilitate loans at easier terms and longer durations, to help customers".He cautions that the depreciation of our currency has tightened the liquidity position for all the banks. Gurgaon Gramin Bank, however, has a very comfortable liquidity position and the Bank also has low-cost deposits, which help in ensuring better profits.
In the last one year the Bank has entered into agreements with seven new companies, for extending personal loans through its 29 branches - thus taking the total number of tie-ups to 172. The Bank has also entered into a tie-up with the National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation, to extend financial assistance to persons with disabilities, at concessional rate of interest.
Madhu says the Bank, despite being a rural bank, has huge potential in Gurgaon region, as it has deep roots in the community, and has strong and long-standing tie-ups with corporates. The Bank, which grew by 17 per cent last year, has pegged the growth target at 24 per cent this year - despite the stagnant economy. This, Madhu says, is due to the Bank’s very strong fundamentals. The next area of growth is micro-credit in rural areas, as well as financing the needs of medium and small enterprises. “There is great opportunity for the Bank in funding rural youth and helping them establish small units and shops. This will create self -employment and help in rural growth, which is the main objective of the Bank”, he says. GGB is also planning to introduce micro-insurance in rural areas, as the majority of commercial entities in the domain of insurance have not tapped the huge potential of Indian villages. “People in Haryana are very aware, and once given an option, will opt for insurance”, says Madhu.
Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) of government subsidies and benefits is also a major area of focus for Madhu. He says that the Bank has been allocated 68 villages and 5 wards for the Direct Benefit scheme. “We have opened one bank account per family for all the beneficiaries. The bank accounts have been mapped and now we are ready to make transfers to the account”, he says.
Madhu says that to provide quality banking service to rural customers, the Bank has adopted the latest tools - such as RTGS/NEFT, online transactions and connectivity of branches, participation in the Cheque Truncation System; and has also set up a currency chest in Gurgaon. The Bank is also going to soon refurbish its branches and bring the same at par with other commercial banks. “Our goal is to give a top experience to the customers, so that they are satisfied and stay with us; keeping a customer is more profitable than adding a new one”, he says. The Bank last year also launched a customized Gold Loan Scheme, which got quite a favourable response in the City. More such schemes will be launched in the near future.
Like most corporates in Gurgaon, GGB is facing a problem of high attrition. Madhu says that the large number of opportunities available in the City make it tough to retain employees. “Despite salaries and other benefits being at par with PSU banks, there are a large number of new entrants who move to ‘greener’ pastures, after spending an year or two here. We are looking to change this situation by motivating the staff to stick with the Bank, and by improving the work environment”, says Madhu. The challenge may be steep, but Madhu says that they will now look more for local candidates, who should want to stay longer in their ‘home’ Bank.