State Bank of India (SBI) is leaving no stones unturned to kick-start the credit offtake, and last week's steep 0.90 bps lending rate cut has resulted in a huge number of enquiries, especially for home loans, a top bank official said here on Saturday.
"Credit growth has been very, very subdued so far. In fact, our loan book has not grown at all after the note ban announcement on November 8. Now, the focus is on growing the loan book," Rajnish Kumar, managing director in charge of national banking, told reporters.
He said already there is a visible pick-up in loan enquiries, especially for home loans with online queries alone jumping over three-times since the rate cut last Sunday. "Already there is a lot of excitement in the housing loan market since the rate cut announcement, wherein we steeply cut our lending rates. We are seeing lots of interest.
In fact, traffic on our portal has grown by almost three times since the rate cut announcement," Kumar said, adding if the home loan marker revives, it will be good for the economy.
Announcing a steep 0.90 bps reduction in its MCLR-based lending rate, bank chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya had said since demonetisation, the bank saw a contraction in lending and expressed hope that offering the lowest rate in the industry would help it resume lending activities.
It can be noted that system as a whole has seen the worst contraction in credit growth since 1997 in December due to the note ban impact. According to the latest Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data, bank credit grew at the slowest pace in past 19 years in December at 5.1 per cent against 10.6 per cent a year ago.
The RBI data indicate lack of credit demand is across all segments and not just companies, including retail, wherein the only segment where a growth is registered is in auto loans.
Kumar said after demonetisation, the bank has seen over three-and-a-half times rise in debit cards use at merchant terminals and on e-commerce sites. Similarly, the wallets and other methods of payment through mobile have also seen a healthy increase in both in volume and value.
"Last year, we did 100,000 PoS installations. Since the note ban, we have installed as many as 45,000 PoS terminals. Our target is to install 200,000 more this year," Kumar said.
He further said availability of PoS infrastructure is very crucial, as there are about 75 crore cards, of which 45 crore are used very actively on ATMs.
"If the same cards are used actively on PoS machines for doing normal purchases this will reduce pressure on ATMs for cash. Such a shift will be very helpful as cost of doing digital transactions is much lower than the cost of handling cash transactions," he said.