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Former SBI chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya believes India needs fewer but stronger public sector banks (PSBs). On Wednesday, she said, the smaller state-owned banks could be privatised or merged. However, Bhattacharya believes wholesale privatisation of PSBs is not the answer. She suggests goals can also be achieved by enabling the state-owned banks and by levelling the playing field.

She told PTI that much of the goals that are expected to be achieved through privatisation of PSBs can also actually be achieved by enabling the state-owned banks and by levelling the playing field.

When asked about former RBI governor D Subbarao's suggestion that the government should come up with a 10-year road map for privatisation of all PSBs, Bhattacharya said, "privatisation has never been the answer to all the ills."

Bhattacharya does not believe that the country needs so many public sector banks. The number can be reduced. Some can be privatised, while the stronger state-owned banks can continue to be PSBs.

In Bhattacharya's opinion, the wholesale privatisation of PSBs is not the answer.

On NITI Aayog's proposal to set up full-stack digital banks, Bhattacharya told the news agency that citizens between the age group of 17 and 25 years seem to be alright with not having brick-and-mortar branches of banks. If the customers are there, she believes at some point digital banks will come into play. Although, she does admits that are a lot of risks in setting up full-stack digital banks.

Bhattacharya who is currently the chairperson and CEO of Salesforce India -- believes RBI's proposed Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) this year 'will be a big step'. However, the digital currency as it exists today, as per her, does not inspire confidence.

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