SBI urges for level playing field with private sector banks

Mumbai, Nov 15 | Updated: Nov 16 2005, 05:55am hrs
The countrys largest bank, the State Bank of India (SBI) has urged the government to provide a level playing ground with its private peers in terms of regulatory guidelines and instructions. In a recent report to the ministry of finance, the largest domestic commercial bank has suggested that with increasing expectation from public sector banks (PSBs) to perform like private sector banks, there should be a level playing field in terms of regulatory guidelines and instructions.

That the public sector banks are constantly out performed by their private sector counterparts, is the fact that the union finance minister P Chidambaram has often highlighted in his recent meetings with the bankers.

This report assumes critical significance in that light as the PSBs feel they are not only serving to a niche customer base but to the masses , the cost of which tend to be high. Unlike foreign and private sector banks which focus on up-market customers in large cities, SBI has been providing customer services-based on modern technology to the common citizen across the length and breadth of the country. Though the cost of such services tend to be high, SBI has kept the minimum balance requirements low and affordable to the common customer, the report notes.

The report also highlight the fact that for the PSBs, unlike private banks, most of the customers are in rural and semi-urban centres who prefers branch banking and customer services at branches. The services are also required to constantly upgraded and monitored so that the interests of these customers do not suffer even as the bank faces the challenge of keeping abreast of the latest technology in providing banking services using alternate channels. SBI has the most widest and most diverse customer base among any bank in India and has structured its banking services in a manner that enables understanding of the needs of every customer segment that constitutes its customer base, the report added.