ICICI: Pushing Credit Cards To Grassroots Level

Mumbai: | Updated: Feb 27 2003, 05:30am hrs
ICICI Bank Ltd is rolling out new marketing initiatives in a bid to increase the penetration of credit cards beyond the premium customer segment. Accordingly, the bank has now embarked on marketing arrangements with Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL), Visa International and other banking establishments.

Says ICICI Bank Ltd (country head-retail assets)K Vaidyanathan: To promote credit card usage among non-premium customers we want to enhance the overall infrastructure. This is being done so that the credit cards are accepted even among ordinary shopkeepers and franchisee operated outlets that cater to the non-premium audience.

In line with this objective, the bank has commenced an initiative in cities like Hyderabad, Surat, Nagpur and Chandigarh among others. As per the initiative, merchant establishments can set up their own computer terminals. Visa International will then process the credit card transactions. Even other bankers can issue credit cards which can be transacted at these merchant establishments.

Seminars and demonstrations will also be conducted so that merchant establishments are assured of recovering their money from the banks concerned.

Further, Mr Vaidyanathan reasons that many players in the segment have not been targeting non-premium customers for credit card usage mainly because of the risk involved in terms of credit losses. To mitigate this risk, the company has started off by issuing credit cards to its own existing customers. This is being done so that we have accessibility to their accounts for recovering the money that is due from them, he says.

Also, in view the fact that the Indian consumer is price-sensitive the bank has also launched instalment schemes and revolving credit programmes. In the instalment scheme, for instance, consumers can purchase the required products and the bank will deduct the money on instalment basis from the account of the respective customer. The customer is entitled to this scheme with a single telephone call, says Mr Vaidyanathan.

As part of the education and awareness programme, the bank has already rolled out television commercials and hoardings to leverage the proposition termed Happiness in your hands.

In addition, there are targeted programmes for doctors, engineers and other self-employed professionals to trigger credit card usage amongst this segment and widen the user base beyond the high-income salaried class.

Finally all we are saying is shop for happiness and pay with pride, sums up Mr Vaidyanathan.