Thrissur: ESAF Small Finance Bank, Kerala’s first private sector bank since Independence, started operations on Friday, taking the services to the rural poor’s door step. The Bank, promoted by ESAF Microfinance and Investment Limited, was launched by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
The event also witnessed the launch of ATM cum Debit cards, the bank’s website and digital banking channels. The bank is planning to open 85 branches in the first year, of which RBI approval has already been obtained for the opening of 15 branches. All the branches will be full-fledged retail branches and will start functioning very soon, K Paul Thomas, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, said.
The bank proposes to offer interest rate ranging from 5.75 to 9 per cent for term deposits. For savings deposits, the rate would vary from 6 to 7 per cent with 0.5 per cent additional for senior citizens.
“ESAF Microfinance, which owes its success to the doorstep delivery of services, will replicate the same model for the bank. We are planning to appoint 10,000 agents for providing the banking services at doorsteps. The agents will provide services such as account opening, banking transactions and small value loans,” Thomas added.
ESAF, which has own funds of over Rs 300 crore, recently raised additional Rs 300 crore through the issue of commercial papers. It is targeting business of Rs 2000 crore by 2020, Chairman R Prabha, said.
ESAF is one of the 10 such micro-finance institutions that has got RBI approval to start normal banking services in the country.