ESAF Small Finance Bank, Kerala’s first small finance bank, is targeting businesses worth R20,000 crore by 2020. Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday inaugurated the SFB in Thrissur. ESAF Microfinance is among the 10 financial services firms selected by the RBI for setting up small finance banks. The bank, promoted by ESAF Microfinance and Investments (P) Ltd, has announced that it will open 85 branches in the first year of operations.
The new bank is offering interest rates of between 5.75% and 9% for term deposits of varying maturities. For savings deposits, the rates vary from 6% to 7%, based on the outstanding balance in the account. Senior citizens will be entitled to an additional .05% for term deposits.
“ESAF Microfinance, which has a network of 285 branches in 93 districts spread over 11 states, will convert all its existing branches into customer service centres or ultra-small branches or satellite offices,” said K Paul Thomas, founder and ED, ESAF SFB.
ESAF Microfinance, which owes its success to the doorstep delivery of services, will replicate the same model for the bank. The bank envisages to appoint 10,000 agents in the next five years. They will function as human ATMs going to the doorsteps of customers for services, Thomas said. Higher interest rates and free Skype calls for customers at retail branches will be the unique selling proposition.
ESAF SFB plans to introduce new schemes such as Hridaya social deposits targeting high net worth individuals and NRIs. “The minimum deposit will be R15 lakh…” Thomas said.