HDFC Bank said on Thursday that it will open 1,060 branches in semi-urban and rural areas in the current financial year. The bank has created a separate rural banking vertical in order to meet this push in the rural areas, the lender said.
The rural banking vertical will expand the bank’s distribution in the rural areas, will enter strategic partnerships with outside entities, launch new products and services which will meet the needs of its rural customers and provide a one-stop shop solution to farmers and encourage financial literacy.
The bank has partnered with the Institute of Rural Management based in Anand, Gujarat, to create ‘Rural First’ strategy to track consumer behaviour, customer satisfaction, service design, and service delivery. It will focus on services related to rural transport economy, forest economy, agricultural economy and other allied activities.
Currently, the bank has 3,171 branches of its 6,342 branches in semi-urban and rural areas and the remaining 50% in metro and urban areas. Last month, HDFC Bank had said that it will open 150 branches in Uttar Pradesh alone. In the financial year ended March 2021, the bank’s advances to agriculture and allied activities rose by almost 11% to `94,977 crore, as per information in the bank’s annual report for the year.
“This is both a challenge and an opportunity and I am very excited to take this up. For many years now, the bank had 50% of its branches in semi-urban and rural areas. With this enhanced focus, we will open more branches this financial year in semi-urban and rural areas. While branches are touch-points, we are working on meeting rural needs holistically, by creating products specially designed for these markets,” Anil Bhavnani, senior executive vice-president and national rural banking head, HDFC Bank, said.