Within two months of its launch, the Bharatiya Mahila Bank has been urged by the finance ministry to be more aggressive and ambitious in its expansion activities.
“The BMB has been asked to focus on establishing a presence through out the country by setting up more branches and getting more customers. It should stick to its expansion plans for the fiscal,” said a senior government official.
The issue is understood to have been discussed earlier this month when BMB chairperson and managing director Usha Ananthasubramanian met senior finance ministry officials, including financial services secretary Rajiv Takru.
Coinciding with the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the bank was launched on November 19 last year. Set up with a capital base of Rs 1,000 crore, it is seen as one of the key proposals in the last full Budget of the UPA that is aimed at empowering women through financial inclusion.
At present, the BMB has nine branches and it plans to expand to 16 more state capitals by March 31 this year.
“We are working hard to expand our customer base as well as reach,” Ananthasubramanian had told The Indian Express, adding that it is looking at tie-ups with NGOs as well as corporates to get salary accounts.
According to a previous blueprint for appointing an IT vendor, the bank was expected to set up 39 branches and 127 ATMs by the end of this fiscal. It also targeted opening 33,400 customer accounts in the period.
To reach across to a wider section of people even in cities where it has set up branches is a challenge, she had said. To tide over this problem, the BMB is expected to deploy mobile banking vans that would reach out to people for opening accounts, taking deposits.
But she agreed that setting up ATMs to meet the target was becoming onerous. “Whoever has drawn the plan has just drawn it…the implementation part is very difficult. 127 ATMS are planned in three months …it is almost impossible. Everyday I will be opening more than one ATM,”said Ananthasubramanian.
But she said that the BMB would try to increase visibility and do even better than the targets laid out for the fiscal.
By March end, the bank plans to register its presence across the country with branches in state capitals including Itanagar, Agartala, Bhubaneswar, Ranchi, Hyderabad and Srinagar. From next fiscal, the bank will begin expansion into Tier II cities and below as well as unbanked pockets, said Ananthasubramanian.