Mumbai: RBL Bank on Thursday said it has raised its stake in Swadhaar Finserve Pvt. Ltd to 100% from 60.48%. The bank has bought the stake it did not own from US –based non-profit Accion.

Swadhaar, which de-registered itself as a non-banking financial company-microfinance institution (NBFC-MFI) in 2016, started working as an exclusive business correspondent for RBL Bank after it acquired 30% stake in the firm. In November 2017, RBL Bank increased its stake in Swadhaar to 60.48%.

“The acquisition of 100% stake in Swadhaar FinServe is as per our stated intent and goes in line with our broad vision and strategy. We have been successful in expanding our inclusive finance portfolio by reaching the hinterlands of India and Swadhaar has been instrumental in this effort. The Bank sees Swadhaar as a vehicle for becoming the market leader in the space of inclusive finance, especially catering to the underserved households and small businesses," said Harjeet Toor, head – retail, inclusion and rural business at RBL Bank.

Toor further added that going forward the bank will leverage Swadhaar’s growing branch network “to offer other relevant products to customers in semi-urban and rural markets."

Swadhaar has a network of 331 branches across 16 states and two union territories with assets under management of around 2,000 crore. It has a customer base of 750,000.

Most private sector lenders in India are actively looking to expand their retail and priority sector lending as it has emerged as low-risk segment vis-à-vis lending to large corporates.

Last year, IndusInd Bank announced the acquisition of Bharat Financial Inclusion Ltd, the largest MFI in the country. In 2016, Kotak Mahindra Bank bought Bengaluru-based BSS Microfinance Pvt Ltd for 139 crore.