Banking on rural presence, Srei looks to set up bank

Banking on rural presence, Srei looks to set up bank New Delhi: Financial services major Srei group plans to apply for a banking licence to set up a bank with strong rural presence and would not rope in any domestic or foreign partner in this venture.

The group sees its already strong presence in rural areas as a major advantage for its possible banking foray, as the RBI has proposed a minimum of 25 percent presence in rural areas for the new banks that might get licenses this year.

"Srei group is interested in setting up a bank as it can tap the rural presence," Srei Chairman and Managing Director Hemant Kanoria said.

"We will go alone in this banking venture and there are no plans to rope in any partners," he said.

Last month, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) came out with guidelines for issuing new banking licenses and many private players have expressed interest in setting up banks.

Kanoria said that Srei has around 28,000 rural centres in different parts of the country and some of them could be converted into bank branches if it gets a banking licence.

"We are doing the e governance of the government and they (our centres) are in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Orissa and some parts of Tamil Nadu. These centres have computers, printers and are internet connected... It provides all kinds of services," he noted.

He said that group is already at the bottom of the pyramid and financial inclusion is already happening as the centres also provide many services, including sale of insurance policies and mutual funds.

The deadline for applying for new banking licence is July 1 and among other criteria, the promoter is required to bring in an initial capital of Rs 500 crore.

Srei Infrastructure Finance saw its consolidated profit after tax nearly double to Rs 194.12 crore in the nine months ended December, 2012.

PTI