In a shift from its traditional practice of offering credit cards to its captive clients, HDFC Bank, India’s second-largest private sector lender, is now offering more cards to people outside its existing client base.
Currently, customers outside the bank’s existing client base account for 25 per cent of its card base, compared with 10 per cent a year ago.
According to Pralay Mondal, country head (retail assets and credit cards), the move is in line with the bank’s strategy to enter the high-end cards segment. “As we go to super-premium clients, we would look more for external customers. We have already made a shift. While the ratio earlier stood at 90:10, about 25 per cent of our business (in credit cards) now comes from our external clients,” Mondal said during an interaction with Business Standard. With a book value of close to Rs 6,000 crore, HDFC Bank accounts for nearly 30 per cent in the credit card business in India, with the number of cards at 5.5-6 million. “We are issuing close to 85,000 to 90,000 cards a month, and with some new launches, we expect the monthly issuance to cross 100,000 cards soon,” Mondal said.
Speaking about the Infinia high-end credit cards, which the bank launched last month, Mondal said the response has, so far, been good and the bank now plans to introduce a few cards a couple of notches below Infinia to cater to the demand. “We have a cap of 5,000 cards for Infinia, but the demand is for a lot more. That is why we want to come out with variants just below Infinia quickly,” he said.
The lender has seen robust demand for its retail products and has been disbursing Rs 5,000 crore every month, which, it says is the highest in the industry. “We have disbursed loans worth Rs 15,000 crore over the last three months. Each and every product in our retail segment is profit-making. If the total advances in the banking sector grows 17 per cent, retails loans for the industry would grow by around 15 per cent in the current financial year. For HDFC Bank, the growth (in retail loans) would be significantly higher than that,” he said. The bank’s retail book has grown around 30 per cent in 2010-11 and growth in cities, barring that in the top nine ones, contributes nearly half to the bank’s retail assets. Nearly 70 per cent of the bank’s retail loans comprise auto, personal, home, commercial vehicles and two wheeler loans. The bank is slowly beefing up its presence in segments like gold loans, loans against shares and education loans.
Despite seeing aggressive growth in the rising interest rate scenario, the bank is confident of maintaining the rate of growth in retail loans—which is about 50 per cent of its total loan book. The bank also dismissed worries that high rates would translate into a rise in delinquencies in its retail loan portfolio, especially in the unsecured segment.