The report emphasised that rapid adoption of digital technology in response to the COVID-19 also augurs well from point of view of the banks as it may accelerate the adoption of digital offerings by the lenders.
The country’s leading lender SBI is upgrading its existing work-from-home policy to work-from-anywhere, as it gears up to adjust to the new challenges posed by COVID-19. On the business side, the focus of the bank in the days ahead would be on revisiting risk assessment and business procedures in addition to rapid adoption of digital technology, said State Bank of India’s annual report.
This fiscal will be challenging as the full impact of the COVID-19 outbreak will be felt in this financial year. However, from the bank’s point of view, the true impact COVID pandemic must also consider the behavioral impact on Bank’s customers, and composition of portfolio, the report said.
“For instance, likely job cuts and salary reductions will have relatively low level of stress on account of higher proportion of Govt/ Quasi Govt sector customers,” the report quoted SBI Chairman Rajnish Kumar as saying.
As of now, only 21.8 per cent of the customers have availed the benefit of moratorium, it said and added that the bank was able to achieve 98 per cent branch operability as well as 91 per cent alternate channel operability during the period of lockdown.
Nevertheless, an elaborate Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is in place to manage disruptions, said SBI. Business continuity hub branches have been identified to cater to customers in case of emergency and BCP sites identified to support essential backend services, it said. “With global acceptability of Work-from-Home (WFH) arrangements, the Bank is in process of upgrading its existing WFH policy to Work from Anywhere (WFA). “Productivity tools and technology are in already place to perform administrative work remotely,” Kumar said in the report.
Furthermore, WFA reduces commute time that can be utilised for providing better services to customers as well as ensuring better work life balance. “WFA facility has already been rolled out across 19 foreign offices and soon domestic operations will also be covered. This is expected to drive down the operational cost for the Bank, besides ensuring better motivation and productivity for staff members,” the lender said.
It further said the impact of COVID-19 outbreak on economy and financial markets has been dramatic and severe.
However, COVID-19 pandemic has also opened opportunities for the banks. Reordering of global supply chains presents unique opportunity to India to position itself as manufacturing hub to meet global demand. To the extent state governments are able to secure such relocation of businesses from China; banks will see opportunities to expand business, it said.
The report emphasised that rapid adoption of digital technology in response to the COVID-19 also augurs well from point of view of the banks as it may accelerate the adoption of digital offerings by the lenders. “In a nutshell, the outlook on Bank’s business and the economy will be conditional on time frame by which the virus is completely eliminated, and normalcy restored,” SBI said.
The recently released fiscal stimulus package, its priorities and funding strategy will decide how banks will respond in the post-COVID scenario. “Bank will also have to revisit its risk management framework, its internal models of risk assessment and capital planning and business procedures to better adapt to new operating environment,” the report said. SBI had posted a net profit of Rs 14,488.11 crore for 2019-20, as compared to Rs 862.23 crore in FY2019.