HDFC Bank: Goa’s go-to bank

Goa is not just about sun, sea, and sand. Goa has the highest per capita income among all Indian states and union territories, making it one of the richest states in the country. With a ratio of 2,178 people per commercial bank branch as against the national average of 9,280; Goa certainly has one of the best banking services in the country. Among banks, HDFC Bank has been at the forefront transforming millions of lives and supporting businesses, both big and small, across Goa. In an exclusive interview, HARSHVARDHAN BHATKULY spoke at length with Ajit Dalvi, Senior Vice President – Retail Branch Banking, HDFC Bank. He discussed in detail how the bank has been making a difference in Goa through its various initiatives and its future plans for the region. Edited excerpts:

Over the last 24 months, the pandemic has hurt both lives and livelihoods. How has HDFC Bank responded and supported its customers during this period of pandemic?

There is an old saying, with great leadership comes great responsibility. As India’s largest private sector lender HDFC Bank has been catering to the needs of its customers with great empathy. The pandemic has forced individuals and companies to change how they live and work. Social distancing and work from home have become the new normal. Hence, we redesigned our products that not only met their banking needs but also helped them stay safe. For instance, our ‘Insta Accounts’ allowed our customers to open a savings account with HDFC Bank instantly through a digital application process from the comfort and safety of their homes. Likewise, our ‘Insta Credit Cards’ initiative allowed select customers to receive credit cards instantly through e-mail. We also allowed our customers to pay lower EMI in the initial period of the loan to reduce their burden during the pandemic period. This step-up EMI was available on personal loans and auto loans. We also helped a number of businesses stay afloat by offering them an emergency credit line facility. These apart HDFC as a group contributed to the PM Cares Fund and supported the government’s initiatives in fighting the pandemic situation.

HDFC Bank has also emerged as Goa’s go-to bank. What are the reasons why the local residents prefer to bank with you?

The love and support received from our customers in Goa have been amazing. I believe our customer centricity, bouquet of world class banking products, coupled with best-in-class service offerings by highly skilled and well-trained workforce have contributed to our success. We firmly believe that we should help our customers enjoy life by offering them products and services that meet their every banking need. So, whether you want to buy a car, build a home, start a business, save, or invest, HDFC Bank is always there to help.

What about non-resident Goans? What offerings do you have for them?

Non-Resident Goans form a sizeable and growing clientele base for HDFC Bank. We ensure that we cater to this segment by offering them a wide range of banking facilities. We are one of the preferred banking partners for NRGs. We focus not only on single NRG accounts but on family accounts so that all their needs are covered. This segment is more digital banking savvy, and we utilise straight through processing, which offers the convenience of getting an asset product completely online. If a customer is banking with us and wants a personal loan, they can apply online without having to come into a branch. All they need to do is fill in the required details; and can get a loan approval within just 10 seconds.

Tell us about HDFC Bank’s journey in Goa? How many branches do you have in the state?

The blue and red coloured logo grid of HDFC Bank is a popular sight. The Bank has its presence spread across the length and breadth of the state with a network of 68 branches and over 150 ATMs. The bank started its Goa operations way back in 1998 with a five-member branch in Margao. Having tasted success with the launch of its initial branch in 1998, HDFC undertook a rapid expansion drive in the following years.

Over the years, HDFC Bank has steadily charted a vibrant success story and is today, a household name when it comes to banking requirements. While initially we only dealt in liability and deposit mobilisation, today we are a full-fledged bank offering the entire gamut of banking facilities including working capital and various types of loans like retail, business, term and personal. HDFC Bank today boasts a presence in all the talukas of Goa.

And how is the digital banking experience?

With the internet powering an increasing number of business and services across the globe, one of the biggest beneficiaries has been the banking industry. With the ease and convenience that internet banking offers, digital banking initiatives are on the rise. HDFC Bank has been at the forefront of the digital banking revolution and apart from internet banking, we have focused on making our mark on the mobile banking platform. From our current customer base we are seeing an increasing number transacting online. This has further increased during the past two years of lockdown. Also, we are constantly focused on educating people on the ease and convenience of digital banking.

What also works to our advantage is that our mobile banking facility is a lighter version that also works on low network. While our young clients are definitely net savvy, even the older ones are now opening up to using digital banking services in a secure environment. This is especially in cases of paying bills online, as digital banking ensures that they do not have to endure long, unending queues. We even extend this facility to customers who do not have an internet connection at home or on their mobile by offering them the services at the bank’s branch.

What are your advances and deposits in Goa?

We continue to have a healthy mix of loans and deposits in Goa. Our total advances at the end of September 30, 2021 were more than Rs 2,600 crore, while our deposits were over Rs 9,300 crore. Our total business in the state stood at over Rs 12,000 crore at the end of the first half of this financial year.

HDFC Bank is also the largest issuer of credit cards in India. What is your offering for Goa?

As far as card payments are concerned, we are the market leader in Goa in terms of issuance of both debit and credit cards. We have our best-in-class range of cards from mass-market to high end such as Infinia Metal, Diners, Regalia. We also have dedicated platforms like Smart Buy and Payzapp for our customers to avail these benefits.

What has been the nature of your engagement as bankers for the state government?

The state government has been extremely supportive and has been encouraging banks to expand their business across the state and offer services to the financially excluded. We have also been fortunate to have been selected by the government for several services.

For instance, the Directorate of Transport has availed HDFC Bank’s customised solution for collecting various transport fees.

The bank has also offered payment gateway / POS facility to Goa’s electricity department across 34 locations. Out of the total 191 gram panchayats across Goa, HDFC Bank maintains a relationship of 130 gram panchayat accounts. The bank also services the Goa Tourism Development Corporation Limited, Department of Forest, the State Registration Department, Municipal Councils and Corporations.

At HDFC Bank, we are always looking for innovative ways to make banking easier and more convenient for our customers. We have therefore partnered with government for e-payment facility, which has been purpose-built for various municipal corporations. Through the e-payment gateways, residents of Goa are able to use any debit and credit card to make various tax payments. The card details travel in a secure channel and customers get online confirmation of the transaction. Consumers prefer the comfort and convenience of dealing directly through their own bank. Customers of multiple banks – not just ours – can now pay taxes online through netbanking in addition to debit and credit cards. It lends flexibility, builds convenience, saves time, and is very simple.

Is HDFC Bank undertaking any other initiatives for the community?

Apart from our definitive focus of providing banking facilities to every individual in the state, HDFC Bank has also undertaken a social responsibility of uplifting some of the poorer sections of society via their Sustainable Livelihood Initiative (SLI). The Sustainable Livelihood Initiative is a business model that has helped empower thousands of people, particularly women, in rural parts of India. Through this initiative, the Bank intends to reach out to the un-banked and under-banked segment of the population, and in doing so, help as many people as possible at the bottom of the pyramid by providing them with livelihood finance.

It involves a holistic approach – from offering training and enhancing occupation skills to providing credit counseling, financial literacy and market linkages – which financially empowers people and brings them into the banking fold.  This goes hand-in-hand with banking activities.

Through SLI, participants, particularly women, have availed of credit and utilised it for occupations like tailoring, designing jewellery, grocery shop, grazing livestock etc. Further, the women enrolled under SLI have also availed of services such as credit counselling, training for occupation skills enhancement and also market linkages, under this initiative.

Under SLI, the bank has launched Financial Inclusion Branches at Zuarinagar in Vasco and Canca in Mapusa which are focused on providing sustainable livelihoods through banking.

The SLI approach of providing credit to the weaker segment eliminates middle men or the money lenders, allowing clients to get the full disbursed loan amount, which they can put to productive use.

The Bank also conducts pre and post credit counseling sessions to impart financial literacy. This initiative helps to create awareness and educate consumers handling finances. Here, the importance of inculcating a habit of savings, through micro-recurring deposits, is communicated to them.

Building savings can help them tide over during crisis situations like medical emergency, children education etc.

A large portion of our population is engaged in agricultural and dairy activities which is their sole source of income. Hence, providing credit to such clients helps them improve their businesses and further augment the income.

What would be your message for your customers in Goa?

I would like to place on record our sincere appreciation for the support we have been receiving from our customers in Goa. We are committed to offer them an excellent experience for their banking needs. We are confident that we will continue to be Goa’s go-to bank

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