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The hottest thing in India these days (besides the just ended scorching summer) is the advent of start-ups and myriad entrepreneurial ventures that have caught the fancy (and the purses) of investors, financers and customers. A few of these ventures consist of once fancy, fetish favoring bankers who left their high paying and higher profile corporate banking jobs, and started MFIs to reach the unbanked masses and the rural population,that has hitherto remain untouched and unfriended by the banking community. Interestingly, investors aren’t the only one making a beeline for them. The latest in the list of the converted includes the RBI, who after rolling out two large banking licenses last year, has now granted in-principle licenses for payment banks to 11 players and small banks to 10 players, many of which embrace the start-up story, especially the latter set.

Exactly seven years back, with the raging financial crisis threatening to reach the sheltered shores of the Indian subcontinent, the trials and tribulations of the investment banks and foreign banks had caught the unwanted attention of all and sundry. While the Indian banking sector remained fairly insulated on the business front, from a talent and HR perspective the industry has seen tough times, and has struggledo regain the sheen that once tagged the dynamic sector’s ‘face-bookish’ profile. It is perhaps a case of divine justice that the sector is now being driven back into the throes of action and activity fueled by the new crop of banks that hope to correct what ails the banking system today – inequality, penetration and sustainability. It seems to be an era where banks are bound by a conscience, and will now seek to enter segments, sections and stretches which have been far away from the reach of conventional banking, rather than fight it out for parochial profits in big cities and towns.Banks and NBFCs are taking the threat offered by the 23 new invaders to their business fairly seriously, as the marketplace for money will now pit the nimble, disruptive young guns against the might and muscle of the behemoth bosses of traditional banking.

There is widespread belief that just as the e-Commerce entrepreneurs wipe out the legacy of brick and mortar retail, the advent of technology-driven banks will soon transform the beliefs of banking, as mobile phones become branches, and applications replace your bankers. But how will this impact the cast and crew of this now action-packed industry? How will the newbies galvanize talent? What do they need from a human capital perspective as they start to launch operations in the next 18 months? Will it be a slow, steady seizure of the existing banking talent or will we see widespread disruption similar to the revolution we seem to be anticipating on the business front? That is what we decided to understand, and unravel in this article.

The Intent for Inclusion

The Ministry of Finance and the Reserve Bank had embarked on a journey a couple of decades back to provide banking facilities to the remotest parts of India. With the government and regulators both committed towards financial inclusion, this outlined the blueprint for how the remotest locations would be brought under the purview of the banking system. Presence of private banks was largely concentrated in cities and their branches could be found largely in the affluent areas or the commercial districts. However, over the years they realized the potential of tapping into the wealth of rural India which largely comprised agricultural income and thus started operating beyond the Tier 2 cities. Despite this, the reach was not good enough to cover the expanse of rural India and this led to the birth of alternate modes of banking. Inspite of efforts by the government to service the rural/remote locations through the PSU bank branches and their extension counters, they could not keep up with the ever growing rural expanse.

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Roopank Chaudhary
Associate Partner,
McLagan, An Aon Company
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Surya Shekar De
Senior Manager,
McLagan, An Aon Company
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