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Sibos 2022: India’s regional banks – the state of play

Sibos 2022: India’s regional banks – the state of play

Ahead of Sibos 2022, Finextra spoke to Baldev Prakash, managing director and CEO of one of the oldest private sector banks in India, Jammu & Kashmir Bank, about their technology roadmap, the subcontinent’s economic recovery and the geopolitical implications of the Russia-Ukraine conflict despite being a smaller bank.

As Prakash explained, J&K Bank have historically prioritised leveraging new technology “to derive more business value, provide banking facilities to the unbanked or underbanked section of the society and has been striving persistently to economically empower people.” With a focus on digitisation, scalability and ease of use, J&K Bank have introduced digital and online products, while at the same time, improving existing solutions with added functionality for their customers.

The Srinagar-based bank, like its larger competitors that serve more of a national target audience, also acknowledges the importance of keeping pace with changing demands and has worked towards enhancing their core banking infrastructure with Infosys Finacle 10. Prakash highlighted that a “long-term approach is required for adoption of cloud strategy, which includes development of current ecosystems and movement of non-critical applications which do not hold customer/PII data to cloud.”
J&K Bank is also leveraging data analytics to provide personalised banking services to subsets of customers and have enabled payments app Phone-Pe Loan for all J&K Bank State Government employees. 137 million of 198 million transactions (79%) of total transactions were processed through digital channels in Q1 2022.

As reported by The Hindu and referenced by Prakash, credit offtake has seen robust growth of over 16% YOY, which has been down to sustained retail and improving wholesale credit and is expected to further catalyse growth for the bank across India. With elevated core banking systems and a customer-centric approach, J&K Bank intend to grow into different states as a first-choice bank.

However, the momentum in credit growth may be impacted by further rate hikes due to elevated inflation and depreciating currency. Prakash added that the bank “does expect more rate hikes but their quantum may not be steep given that the oil prices have now started moderating.

“Interest rates may rise by another 50-75 basis points during the current fiscal. The bank carefully monitors its interest sensitive assets over interest sensitive liabilities on an on-going basis and does not expect any adverse impact on the NII from the increasing interest rates. Furthermore, the bank does not have any weighty foreign exchange exposure to be impacted by the geopolitical situation implications of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.”

In partnership with the likes of PFMS, NPCI, Mastercard, Visa and SWIFT, J&K Bank can offer payment and remittance services to their customers. The bank is also collaborating with major IPG services providers, POS aggregators and e-commerce merchants to facilitate digital payments and zero-cost EMI. In line with this, IT-enabled measures such as micro-ATMs have been implemented and financial literacy councillors (FLC) have been engaged to expand financial inclusion in remote areas during literacy camps.

Prakash explained: “Every rural branch of the bank is conducting one such camp in a month. Capacity building of the employees is being done by imparting regular training at own training colleges and at other reputed institutions in the country.”

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