BANGALORE: A micro-finance company-turned-Jana Small Finance Bank began operations on Thursday for greater financial inclusion. "The transition from a micro finance firm (Janalakshmi Financial Services) to a bank will enable our 45 lakh loan customers to come into banking ecosystem by 2018-end," said the city-based bank in a statement here.
One of the 10 financial institutions to get banking license from the Reserve Bank of India in April 2017, Jana aims to be an inclusive digitised bank serving all customer segments and communities across the country.
"The commercial launch of our banking operations enables us to fulfil our promise of being a full-service financial institution to millions of our customers," said Bank's Chairman Ramesh Ramanathan, a former Citibank executive in the US.
With its "paise ki kadar" (value for money) catchphrase, the bank offers better returns than state-run and other private banks with 8.5 per cent interest rate on fixed deposits for 366 days.
For senior citizens, the interest rate is up to 9.1 per cent for the same tenor.
"Our combination of scale combined with robust technology allows us to be a nationwide local bank to our customers, embeddedAin the communities we serve," said Ramanathan.
The bank also offers zero balance for basic savings bank deposit account.
With a 35 per cent Capital Adequacy Ratio and Rs 7,600 crore loan book, the bank has 157 branches in 19 states across the country. It also has 12 branches in unbanked rural areas and 402 micro finance branches.
"Financial inclusion continues to be a major challenge in India, not just for the poorAbut also the aspirational middle class and millions of micro and small enterprises," said Ramananthan.
The bank plans to expand rapidly to have 500 branches by 2019 in the 19 states it operates by converting most of its micro-finance storefronts.
"Given our experience, we aim to be a household name serving all needs of our customers, both individuals and businesses," said Jana Chief Executive Ajay Kanwal at the launch event.
The bank's 150 branches will also cater to small and medium enterprises.
"We plan to hire 1,000 more employees to ramp up our headcount to 15,000 by the year-end," added Kanwal.
The bank will continue with micro finance lending for catering to the diverse needs of its customers and will extend business loans, agri loans, affordable housing loans and gold loans.