BS Banking Round Table: MSMEs big opportunity for 2018, like retail earlier

Published On: 13, Dec 2017 | Source: business-standard.com

Are non-performing assets (NPAs) the biggest challenge for the Indian banking system at present? Or is there too much stress on ‘recognition’ of NPAs rather than recovery? State Bank of India (SBI) Chairman agrees NPAs are a key challenge but he is also worried about data security in an increasingly digitising banking payments system. There were many issues that came to the fore as the stalwarts of the put their minds together at the Business Standard 2017 and discussed the future of banking and payments system in India.
 
One key sector that emerged as the 'big' opportunity for the banking sector in the year 2018 was credit to the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs)  through the right employment of data analytics and other technological tools. G, MD & CEO of Union Bank of India, said, "what we will see in 2018 will be primarily in the MSME sector. Through use of the right data analytics and other tech tools, we should be able to approach these MSMEs and participate in their growth story. The that are able to manage their positioning and participate in the MSME sector's growth will benefit. MSMEs will provide 40% of job oppotunities," he said.

And what about tools like artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain? The chief believes that conceptually it appears to be new, but the outlook is exciting and promising.

Former RBI deputy governor K C Chakrabarty said he believed NPAs were the biggest challenge for the banking industry, while MD was of the opinion that technology and innovation were equally important and too much stress on NPA recognition was a cause for concern. How customers interact across the ecosystem and how become part of the seamless digital life of consumers is a big opportunity,"Kochchar said.

However, for SBI, the biggest challenge is not NPAs but their perception. "Yes it is, especially for PSUs. There is a perception that young people don't deal with public-sector But 60% of my customers are between 25 and 40 years of age," said.
 
There was also the notion during the discussion that the various issues that the private banking sector had faced over the past few years had impaired its ability to have good credit growth. Kochhar said she saw an uptick in credit growth going forward, in spite of deleveraging. "Credit growth was 5.5% earlier and it has reached 10% now. Retail growth is 16-17%. Corporate credit growth has shown an uptick," the ICICI MD said.
 
Have Goods and Services Tax (GST) and demonetisation benefitted the banking sector? The Union Bank MD said GST is going to bring about a change and the tax-to-GDP ratio will improve going forward. Chakrabarty,on the other hand, claimed had failed to take full advantage of demonetisation; they should have cut their savings bank rates to one per cent.
 
The chief said the pace of opening new accounts had not gone down. "Savings bank is a big franchise for a bank like us. Even today, if I reduce the interest rate, nothing will happen. You cannot ignore competition. India does not have as robust a social security system as in Europe. We cannot ignore that. The elderly in India depend on our interest rates," he said.
 
The deciding factors for credit growth was also one of the topics at the round table. "Lower lending rate is just a necessary condition, but not sufficient for credit growth," Kochhar said. "Credit growth happens because of necessity, as spending and demand (for credit) increases. Credit growth will have to depend on macro situations around us. Credit growth totally depends on demand for credit, not necessarily rates," Kochchar said.
 
Is Insovlency and Bankruptcy Code one of the biggest reforms for the Indeed, said "There cannot be a uniform approach across the industry as far as IBC is concerned," he said, adding should be given freedom and an administered regime mindset to decide rates.

In round 2, CTO of ICICI Bank, Chairman of Payments Council of India, Digital Banking Head of Axis Bank, Regional MD, FIS and MD & CEO of Infrasoft Tech join for a discussion on the