Credit card industry set for exponential growth

Written by Sitanshu Swain | Updated: Oct 26 2011, 08:54am hrs
SBI Cards, a joint venture between the State Bank of India and GE Capital, has made a good recovery after suffering losses in the recent times. S Kadambi Narahari, CEO, SBI Cards, speaks to FEs Sitanshu Swain about the companys strategy to reposition the card business.Excerpts:

How did you manage the turnaround in 2010-11

Today, we have more stringent credit checks with the active involvement of credit information bureaus/agencies, including the Credit Information Bureau India (Cibil). We have also tried new ways of providing more value to our customers, including revamping our rewards programmes and new product offerings. We are utilising smarter analytics for better customer acquisition and management.

At the portfolio level, we have been utilising technology to segment our cardholders in a smarter way and roll out more relevant and cost-effective offers. The stringent checking mechanism has provided us with the ability to get on board the right set of cardholders.

In the current financial scenario, have defaults on card payment gone up

The stringent checks and balances put in place by SBI Cards has resulted in a marked improvement in the quality of our portfolio. At SBI Cards, we promote financial prudence and work closely with our customers to provide them value through healthy financial practices. Our delinquencies are the lowest in the industry and have gone down by over 60% in 2011 compared to 2010.

Tell us about your customer base, total exposure and NPAs at the moment

SBI Cards continues to be one of the leading credit card players in India with over 2.1 million cardholders. Given the low credit card penetration in India, the industry is poised for exponential growth. There is a lot of optimism in the industry. With the rapid growth of terminalisation, credit cards will gain more importance and we will see cash becoming the second option. We are focused on profitable growth and encourage responsible financial behaviour among our customers.

With banks having pruned their credit card business a couple of years back, has the situation improved now

Two years ago, the credit card industry was maturing. Its now in the growth phase. Credit card issuing companies, banks as well as customers are a lot more aware today and actions by all stakeholders are far more deliberate and responsible.

They have become more stringent while issuing new credit cards. This involves more rigorous credit checks, besides seeking additional credit information through credit bureaus.

Why your rates are so high

We have several products that straddle the entire spectrum of the customer base, including a low-APR product, SBI Advantage Plus Card (it has an APR of 2.25%). We also offer a balance transfer facility at 0%, where cardholders can transfer their alternate card balance to their SBI Card for 60 days.

Dont you think that, unlike the developed market, credit card issuers in India dont have enough innovation and attractive customer facilities What has SBI Cards done on this front

Today, we are making the full use of technology to make credit card usage simple and customer friendly. Customers can access an extensive range of services and offerings on our website, www.sbicard.com.

There are a whole lot of self-service features which make life simple for our cardholders. Another key initiative has

been the launch of the EMV microchip-based card with

enhanced security features, which will be available to a majority of the existing and all new customers.

What is your ranking in the industry now What are the business plans for 2011-12 SBI Cards continues to be one of the industry leaders in India and is focused on offering a host of world-class products and services, which makes life simpler for its cardholders. We provide some of the best value-for-money credit cards in the Indian market.

We will continue to bring newer products to cardholders with our compelling value propositions. Also, we will focus on newer innovations in the industry. Our plan is to grow the card base significantly over the next few years. We are also offering our customers more incentives to use their SBI Card more and in different ways, for example, low-interest EMI-based loans for consumer goods.