ESAF Small Finance Bank Limited has commenced operations as a small finance bank with effect from March 10, 2017.
ESAF Microfinance and Investments Private Limited, Chennai was one of the ten applicants which were issued in-principle approval for setting up a small finance bank, as announced in the Reserve Bank of India press release on September 16, 2015.
ESAF journey to a Small Finance Bank started in November 2014, when Reserve Bank of India issued guidelines for ‘Licensing of Small Finance Banks in India’.
The current tag line of ESAF Small Finance Bank is ‘The first small finance bank from Kerala’.
It is in process of recruiting Senior Management for the final commercial launch. The latest openings of ESAF Small Finance Bank can be viewed @ http://esafmicrofin.com/index.php/careers.html
ESAF applied for the final licence in July 2016 and Reserve Bank of India issued the final licence in November 2016.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, will launch ESAF Small Finance Bank on March 17, 2017.
In the same week, ESAF will also begin its year-long silver jubilee celebrations.
It has also aimed at expanding its total number of branches to 500 and increasing its customer base to one crore. ESAF currently has a network of 285 branches spread over 11 states. Of this 104 branches are in Kerala.
"All our current branches will be converted to customer service centres and 85 retail branches will be opened in the first year. We have got approval to open 39 while another 17 are pending approval with RBI. We will expand footprints to north eastern states starting with Assam and to the metros,’’ K Paul Thomas, the founder and executive director of ESAF Microfinance said at a news conference.
Of the new branches, 25% will have to be opened in unbanked regions. ESAF has identified ten such places in Kerala.
As part of the marketing strategy, the bank will use its agents` network to facilitate operation. “We plan to have 10,000 agents in next five years who will function as human ATMS going to the doorsteps of the customers for services,’’ Thomas said.
As a key differentiator, ESAF Small Finance Bank will also provide free Skype calls for the customers at retail branches.
In the pipeline are new schemes such as Hridaya social deposits targeting high networth individuals and NRIs. The customers of the scheme can choose from sectors like agriculture, housing, education and micro enterprises to invest their deposited money. The minimum deposit will be Rs 15 lakh,’’ Thomas said.
ESAF has invested around Rs 20 crore so far in IT. FIS Global has been engaged as the system integrator for the project and E&Y as the principal consultant for the banking transformation.
K Paul Thomas, who is the chairman of the ESAF group, will be the bank's MD & CEO