Bigger RBL footprint in financial inclusion

Mumbai: Private sector lender RBL Bank has doubled its stake in Swadhaar FinServe - a captive business correspondent (BC) of the bank. It also has the rights to raise its stake in the latter to 100 per cent.

The mid-sized bank on Monday said it had increased its stake in Swadhaar to 60.48 per cent from 30 per cent. Swadhaar is involved in the financial inclusion segment covering MSME and micro-banking in the rural and semi-urban areas. At present, the Swadhaar business operates in 17 states and Union territories through 242 branches.

RBL said it had bought the additional 30.48 per cent stake in Swadhaar in line with its business strategy to leverage technologies and partnerships and extend its service offerings to under-banked areas. Further, the bank holds the rights to increase its stake to 100 per cent subject to regulatory approvals.

"Deepening our relationship with Swadhaar Finserve, now a subsidiary of the bank, is in sync with our broad vision and strategy. Over the past few years, we have been able to establish a sizeable business in the financial inclusion segment with an advance book of around Rs. 4,600 crore serving 1.9 million borrowers.

"The bank sees Swadhaar as a vehicle to execute its strategy to become a significant player in the financial inclusion and micro banking segment, catering to the economically weaker and underserved households," RBL Bank's managing director & CEO Vishwavir Ahuja said.

RBL Bank said it has partnered 12 corporate banking correspondents to build a presence across 24 states and Union territories.

The latest move comes at a time private sector banks have increased their focus on financial inclusion by acquiring microfinance firms.

In October, IndusInd Bank agreed to buy Bharat Financial Inclusion Ltd in an all-share deal for close to Rs 15,500 crore. BFIL is the country's second largest microfinance company. Similarly in September last year, Kotak Mahindra Bank acquired BSS Microfinance for over Rs 139 crore. Earlier, IDFC Bank had announced the acquisition of Grama Vidiyal Microfinance, a Trichy based microfinance firm.


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