SRINAGAR: Axis Bank, the third largest private sector bank in India, is going to increase its branch strength in Jammu and Kashmir to 50 in 2014.
The number will be more than double to its present strength of 22 branches, and highest after HDFC Bank in private sector banks. HDFC has 64 branches presently in J&K.
Senior Vice President of Axis Bank Shrikant Gupta told Kashmir Reader that Jammu and Kashmir is emerging as a priority market for the bank, therefore, it is going to cover all the district and towns of the state in the coming months.
“The bank is about to touch the halfway mark and we are hopeful to achieve the network strength of 50 branches by the end of next fiscal,” Gupta said.
“Initially the bank aims to open branches at all district headquarters then we will be moving into the towns and unbanked areas in the state.”
Gupta said all the branches will be providing unparalleled service and best banking facilities in the state to the customers at its all branches.
Cluster Head of the Axis Bank Shabir Khan said that this year alone the bank has made its presence felt in several key districts.
“In the coming months we will be adding two more branches, one at Awantipora in Pulwama district and other will be in Srinagar,”he said.
The bank presently has eight branches operation in Kashmir division and 14 branches operate in Jammu.
Khan said that the bank is going to setup its branches at Pulwama, Budgan, Rajouri,Poonch, Doda, Kishtiwar, Badarwah and Ramban first.
The unbanked areas in the state are also on the priority list for the bank as it plans to make its presence felt in these areas and offer the services to the people their, he said.
The officials maintained that the bank has been nurturing and recruiting the local talent with more than 90 percent recruitments carried locally.
Khan said that a relaxed policy announced by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in September wherein it allows commercial banks to open new outlets in major cities without seeking prior approval will help the banks grow.
“Even though we are seeking the approval from the RBI for opening up of the branches, we have been growing better than the others, as a competing banking is always good for banking sector and customers, Khan said.
The bank is also aiming to increase its ATM presence in the state and has recently partnered with J&K State Cooperative Bank in facilitating services like Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) and National Electronics Fund Transfer (NEFT).
Many other private banks have announced their expansion in the state.
Recently Canara Bank announced to open 38 branches, whereas HDFC and ICICI have a sizeble presence already in the state.