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With Non-Performing Assets (NPA) piling up, India’s leading banks are wooing the middle class with retail loans to purchase cars, motorbikes, refrigerators and mobile phones.

Bank loans for corporate have burnt the fingers of many banks. Many are sitting with huge bad debts of large companies and infrastructure projects. Now they see more profit and less risk in lending to retail borrowers, reports The Wall Street Journal.

“Retail banking is the only avenue left for growth. Corporates are hurting” moted Abhishek Kothari, a banking analyst with Anand Rathi & Stock Brokers Ltd. in Mumbai. Among the significant retail loan schemes include ICICI Bank’s  Express Home Loan service. The largest private bank is approving an online home loan application within eight business hours. It also hike the amount a first time home loan buyer can get. Axis Bank, the third largest private sector bank is offering personal loans through smart phone app and ATMs. In 2015, HDFC Bank came up with a 10-second personal loan for existing customers a a pre- approved loan available 24X7. According to RBI data, until June 2015, 21 percent of corporate loans were non-performing. That is up from 17 percent bad loans in September 2013. Contrast this with the lowly 2 percent default rates in retail loans during the period. Retail lending of banks grew 18 percent in November 2015 on a year-to-year basis. This contrasts with the mere 5 percent growth in corporate loans, according to the RBI data.

With an economic growth of 7 percent, the retail push of banks will be a boost to the domestic market. The banks in India are raising focus on consumer loans unlike in China where on infrastructure and manufacturing are the staple sectors. The World Bank data notes that the share of consumption in the Indian economy is 59 percent compared to China’s 37 percent, according to media reports.


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