Living with high interest rates: How Banks will follow the script for India’s new growth – Part II

Pie chart of population distribution throughou...
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The RBI proposal for making a 100% WOS structure mandatory for existing foreign licensees is likely to get the tax man’s blessings if the diktat comes through form the MoF letting Banks bring in unlimited Capital for the new banking company without any tax implications. It still leaves to the foreign banks to set up such WOS structures that bind them to 25% branches in rural unbanked centers. In the draft for new banks for example I do not believe rural unbanked is the term used and they may be just llooking at setting up next to the HDFC Bank or PSB in the village/town when they do get down to implementation. Also with Foreign banks have partnered themselves in Insurance the FOHC/NOHC structure will be invoked with nary permutations to let HSBC and Citi operate for the projected bancassurance incomes in reputed cross sell revenue burst yet to be seen here.

However Banks will have a significantly larger play than just habituating Indian customers to high rates (mostly on loans), to mobile USSD messaging, UID enrolling for deposit accounts and mobile payments interfaces With RBi close to the curve on inflation there is much more rate hike in India’s future till we can outrun that inflation or pull it back(not happening till midway in 2012) Social programs in the rural hinterland may become more common and apparently more sophisticated than the public sector loan melas of the 80s

Swabhimaan inititive or rural unbanked villages claims 70,000 villages covered in 2011 till now, while NBFCsoperating int he country are being re regulated to level the playing field in terms of prudential and provisioning norms while deposit taking remains the purview of banks and those already having such a license in the NBFC space while allowing NBFC s access to SARFAESI Acto to allow recovery

It is the urban market increase in consumption which is a fertile grounded seeded by the Private and Foreign banks with renewed vigour. With underwriting norms slikely to be ofllowed diligently at least for some more months to come, the higher rates may not make much of an impact on consumer disposition with Cars and Homes hoping to come back to the top of the shopping list sooner than FY12 end in six months

Contraction in bank branches in the US however and in fact everywhere in the developed world where branch interaction has been a much lower component since more than a decade back, the growth in superstructure may be discouraged by the higher rate structures for the banks themselves. This is exemplified by the transaction charge difference of upto 5 times in a bank branch (40p) as compared to an internet only transaction(8p)  An Asian Banking report recently suggested that Internet transactions in Asia are more than 1 in every 5 transactions including large monolithic markets like China

Investments in risk process and Trading systems and platforms will likely take uo larger investments on the banks’ part yet. However, globally some larger operations in FICC and Equities may be looking for less regulated centers than the freshly reregulated markets in US, India, and China and global expasion to SE Asia’s frontier markets and Africa may well shift  the invesment locus from India and China too and thus Indian regulators would have to sweeten the regulatory pie they have to eat at India’s party for some time to come.

The ideal for banks right now is the renewed strength of income from the Wealth segments in Fee and Advisory income, investment income as well as financing the luxury goods consumption channel that seems to have been fairly robust during 2008 and now. Even if retial was to reach an average of 33% to 40% of the banks’ income statements it could mean large jums for the banks’ balance sheets and for India’s consumption pie. Corporate Banking and the likely revitalised IPO market remains the banks’ most dependable source  of income even with a more conservative range of products for the dle funds that have been the banks’ focus for faster profits to the clients and themselves

An HDFC Bank Branch in Hyderabad
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