Ujjivan Small Finance Bank (Ujjivan SFB) will be accelerating expansion of the branch network and will open up to 171 branches across the country by the end of this year, Samit Ghosh, CEO and MD of Ujjivan SFB, said. The small finance bank started its operations in Bengaluru in February 2017 and has reached 30 branches in the first phase of the branch rollout. The goal is to convert all the 451 microfinance branches into SFB branches in three years, Ghosh said. “So far we are on track and after this month we will accelerate branch expansion.”
Sanjiv Bajaj, MD of Bajaj Finserv, inaugurated the Ujjivan Small Finance Bank’s foray in Pune. Ujjivan SFB opened four branches in the city on Wednesday with a fifth to be opened in the next couple of days. Bajaj Finserv invested in Ujjivan three years ago and holds 7% in the holding company of the bank. Ujjivan is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ujjivan Financial Services.
Bajaj said his company has had a long and fruitful relationship with Ujjivan and this relationship has significantly expanded, leading to investing in the institution. “We covered two crore lives with Ujjivan by going to places where others don’t want to go. Ujjivan also had a lending relationship with Bajaj Finance. There has been multiple relationships with Ujjivan and this will continue to flourish,” Bajaj said.
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Ujjivan SFB is now looking at tie-up with Bajaj to sell general insurance products, Ghosh said. Bajaj and Ghosh launched the Ujjivan Adhaar based biometric ATM card in Pune. Ghosh said the process of converting existing customers into bank customers is a long and slow process. So far, it has managed to convert 31,000 customers into bank depositors. The second set of customers the SFB is targeting are those who have bank accounts but are still out of the banking systems as they are intimidated by big banks and their complex processes, Ghosh said.
As retail deposits will take time to grow, Ujjivan SFB will rely on wholesale deposits to grow and cover the gap. It would look at institutional depositors, wholesale deposits, HNIs and cooperative institutions, Ghosh said.