Gara Charma, near Port Blair, may not ring a bell. But for Syndicate Bank, its branch there is a star performer in the gold loan business.

With a business of Rs 15 crore in the last fiscal, this branch of Syndicate Bank did the best among competing banks on the Andaman and Nicobar islands, according to Executive Director M. Anjaneya Prasad.

Akin to mainland, in the islands of Andaman and Nicobar as well as Lakshadweep too the yellow metal is a sought-after asset and also used to secure quick loans.

In addition to Syndicate Bank, at least half a dozen major banks such as State Bank of India, HDFC Bank and Indian Overseas Bank operate there.

Because of the growing gold loan business, the Manipal-headquartered Syndicate Bank is planning to nearly double its ‘gold loan shoppes’ by March across the country. The bank has 60 such shoppes now and wants to take them to 100, Anjaneya Prasad told Business Line.

Syndicate Bank has more than a dozen branches on the Andaman and Nicobar, Lakshadweep and other islands.

There is a sizeable population of South Indians and Bengalis, who seem to be buying and pledging gold.

The locals also pledge jewellery to raise funds, he said.

Even in the Lakshadweep, the demand is picking up and the bank has 10 branches operating there, he said.

The bank offers quick loans as well as overdraft facility against gold.

It is also set to re-launch its gold coin sale for the coming festival season. Coins weighing 2 gm, 4 gm, 8 gm and 10 gm will be up for sale.

somasekhar.m@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on September 13, 2012)
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