Mumbai: The panellists at the Mint Annual Banking Conclave, held on 15 September at Mumbai, said that although there could be a difference in the playing field between domestic and foreign banks in India, the regulators are much fairer than in most countries, including many developed countries.

Financial leaders: Panellists at the Mint Annual Banking Conclave 2008 in Mumbai: from left—K.C. Chakrabarty, CMD of Punjab National Bank; Sanjay Nayar, CEO of Citigroup India; K.V. Kamath of ICICI Bank; O.P. Bhatt, chairman of State Bank of India; Neeraj Swaroop, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank; and Gunit Chadha, managing director & CEO of Deutsche Bank. Abhijit Bhatlekar / Mint

However, they felt that they hadn’t found a similar reciprocal environment while expanding their branches in other countries, including many developed countries. They argued that foreign banks are here for business rather than financial inclusion, and focused more on the urban areas.

This was countered by panellists from foreign banks, who said they were willing to go to rural India for wider financial inclusion in a more cost-effective manner than local banks.

However, they said licensing issues had at present prevented them. All the panellists, however, agreed that companies should not be allowed to enter the banking sector as of now.