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India's best bank for SMEs 2020: ICICI Bank


Sandeep Bakhshi, MD & CEO, ICICI Bank.jpg
Sandeep Bakhshi, ICICI Bank

Nearly every bank in India flags its credentials in two important areas: the digital franchise and small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) clients. Under chief executive Sandeep Bakhshi, ICICI Bank has done a stellar job at bringing those together, tailoring its numerous digital offerings to its vast SME client base – making it Asiamoney’s best bank for SMEs.

In the 2019 financial year, privately owned ICICI launched a host of digital products specifically for SMEs, to help them meet their business and transaction banking requirements. These included an entirely digitalized current account opening process as well as an instant digitally processed overdraft facility of up to Rs1.5 million ($20,475) for these businesses. The overdraft is the first of its kind among Indian banks for micro and SME customers that doesn’t need a branch visit or physical documents.

That’s not all. The bank now also offers MSMEs loans – the extra ‘M’ stands for micro businesses – based on goods and services tax returns. This is a new working capital facility that allows MSMEs to get an overdraft based on the turnover reported in their goods and services tax returns. All MSMEs, including those that are not even customers of ICICI, can get loans worth up to Rs10 million.

ICICI also started allowing general banking transactions and export-import related deals to take place online. About 93% of trade transactions can be processed digitally by the lender through its online platform.

Money lent to SMEs made up 5.2% of total advances as of March 2019, a tiny increase from 5% the previous year and from 4.4% of total advances in March 2015.

ICICI has had to claw its way back from a difficult few years after corporate governance issues forced management changes, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the bank’s focus on SMEs.