FE Best Banks Awards saw a stimulating debate on digital banking vs traditional banking

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Updated: Jan 21, 2019 5:21 PM

The evening kicked off with a stimulating debate on whether the digital banking system will destroy traditional banking models, moderated by FE managing editor Sunil Jain.

FE Best Bank Awards: It’s celebration time

It was celebration time once again for India’s bankers at the FE Best Banks Awards ceremony. An august gathering cheered the winners all the way to the podium—the top performers in banks, NBFCs and fintechs.

Arundhati Bhattacharya, former chairman of SBI, took home the lifetime achievement award for her contribution to banking. In her acceptance speech, Bhattacharya said the Indian banking industry has the ability and resilience to get out of the current bad loan mess, or any other challenge that is thrown at it.

The winners gather for a photo-op with chief guest Narayanan Vaghul (front row, fifth from left), former chairman, ICICI Bank. In the back row are FE managing editor Sunil Jain (extreme left), George Verghese (fourth from left), CEO, Express Group; Anant Goenka (sixth from left), executive director, Indian Express Group; and Viveck Goenka (seventh from left), CMD, Express Group
Romesh Sobti, CEO, IndusInd Bank, receives the Banker of the Year award for 2016-17 from Narayanan Vaghul (second left). Also seen are Viveck Goenka (extreme left) and Anil Yadav, Group CEO, IRB Infrastructure Developers (extreme right)

Romesh Sobti, CEO, IndusInd Bank, walked away with the Banker of the Year award for 2016-17.

Former ICICI Bank chairman Narayanan Vaghul (second left) giving the lifetime achievement award to former SBI chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya.
SBI managing directors Anshula Kant (L) and Arijit Basu

The evening kicked off with a stimulating debate on whether the digital banking system will destroy traditional banking models, moderated by FE managing editor Sunil Jain.

Narayanan Vaghul, former ICICI Bank chairman, presented the country’s most prestigious financial sector awards—FE Best Banks Awards. Vaghul observed in his keynote address that while the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) was undoubtedly a landmark law that had altered the way the bad loan menace and industrial sickness was tackled, too much of litigation is delaying the resolution process “taking the spirit of the law away”.

A standing ovation for Arundhati Bhattacharya, former SBI chairman (not in picture) as she receives the lifetime achievement award

Viveck Goenka, chairman and managing director, Express Group, said the IBC has forever changed “the balance of power between bankers and lenders”. Banks have got back around Rs 2.5 lakh crore of overdue loans already and another Rs 50,000 crore-Rs 60,000 crore should get resolved in another few months, Goenka added.

The winners were chosen by a high-powered jury chaired by S Ramadorai, former chairman, Tata Consultancy Services(TCS), and his team comprising R Shankar Raman, director & CFO, Larsen& Toubro; Leo Puri, former managing director, UTI Asset Management; Biswamohan Mahapatra, former executive director, Reserve Bank of India; and Sharad Sharma, founder, iSpirt. Helping with some detailed research and number work was the team from EY.

Kotak Mahindra Bank (KMB) won the award for the best savings product—the second time in two years. Fintechs too have been doing some wonderful work using the internet and technology to make it easier to borrow, lend and learn. Insurance marketplace Policy Bazaar is a winner for the second straight year.

Earlier in the panel discussion, participants said there is enough space for both banks and fintech players to grow and they complement each other, although there could be some tension at times.

Outgoing Axis Bank chief executive Shikha Sharma stressed the indispensability of a partnership between banks and fintech companies and added that there should not be much of a worry as to who should control what.

SBI managing director PK Gupta said the country’s largest bank is using its army of “data scientists” to march onward in the digital banking system.

BankBazaar founder Adhil Shetty highlighted the role fintech platforms are playing in catering to people with limited income who are missing out on the opportunity to own credit cards.

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