Colombo: India biggest private sector lender, ICICI Bank is planning expansion of its operations in Sri Lanka to tap the vast business potential in the island nation.
“Besides looking at providing financial assistance to Indian corporates who have set up business in Sri Lanka, we are keen in becoming a major player in the retail sector,” the bank’s Deputy Managing Director Chanda Kochhar told reporters here.
Kochhar, who was in Colombo last week to address the 19th Anniversary Convention of the Association of Professional Bankers (APB), said the bank will not merely focus on the Indian expatriate community for widening its activities in the country.
“We do not target only the Indian expatriate community”, she said, adding the ICICI Bank had the vast business opportunities in the country in mind while introducing new technology to stay ahead in the sector.
Kochhar, after reviewing the bank’s local operations and holding discussions about its future expansion plans in the country with the experts, said the per capita income in Sri Lanka was rising with new investments opportunities coming up.
“This is one of the main reasons for the ICICI Bank in India to plan expansion in Sri Lanka”, she said.
Kochhar, who is ranked 37th on Fortunes list of Most Powerful Women in Business, said the business environment in Sri Lanka was “quite comfortable”.
“The banking regulations too are in line with other countries in the region,“ she said, adding though the bank has only one branch here there were plans to increase the branch network along with infusion of new technology.
“We are also looking at introducing products in Sri Lanka targeting this market,” she said.
Kochar attributed the bank’s success to introduction of new technology. As on June 30, the ICICI group had an asset base of $88 billion besides a market capitalisation of $20 billion.
“While the bank would introduce new technology to our customers, we are also looking at sharing some of them with Sri Lanka banks,” she said.
Among other things, she identified introduction of SMART Card system in Sri Lanka as a focus area under which printed identification may not needed to undertake transactions in the future. “This too would be introduced to Sri Lanka,” she said.
“We would be using new technology both in Sri Lanka and India to reach the masses who are not into banking,” she said.
Describing the bank’s performance during the 20 months of its in the country as satisfactory Kochar said, said the bank was not looking at overnight growth. “We are not looking to grow overnight. It would be a steady growth”, she said.
ICICI Banks international presence currently spans 18 countries and includes three wholly-owned subsidiaries in the UK, Russia and Canada, offshore banking units in Singapore and Bahrain, an advisory branch in DIFC, Dubai.
It also has branches in Hong Kong and Belgium and representative offices in the US, China, United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, South Africa, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.