Vipin V. Nair

Kochi, April 25

KERALA State Financial Enterprises Ltd (KSFE), a State-owned non-banking financial institution, plans to invest Rs 30 crore over the next two fiscal years in computerising its operations as it gears up to face intense competition from banks.

"In the first phase, we will computerise 65 branches at an investment of Rs 6 crore," said Mr K.B. Sudheer Babu, Managing Director of KSFE. In this phase, 35 new branches and 30 existing ones would get connected.

KSFE, which is the leading player in the State in the chit business, is in the process of redefining its role to become a one-stop shop for financial products.

The computerisation drive will be carried out in 2005-06 and 2006-07, covering all its branches. KSFE now has 255 branches across the State.

KSFE has already provided for Rs 18.60 crore in the capital expenditure budget for the proposed automation, Mr Babu told Business Line here.

Mr Babu said after the computerisation, over 900 staff would be redundant in the organisation, but they would be re-deployed in the new `satellite' branches KSFE proposes to open in rural and semi-urban areas.

"These branches will be headed by an official in the rank of assistant manager who will report to a manager of a main branch in the respective area," Mr Babu said. One such satellite branch would come up in every panchayat in the State.

The tendering process for the computerisation is in the final stages and orders will be placed by May, he said. Currently only three branches of KSFE are computerised.

Mr Babu said with the computerisation, KSFE branches would be able to generate additional revenue by selling various application forms and by accepting bill payments of utilities.

A `virtual branch', which will help KSFE tap the non-resident Keralites through Internet, is also in the pipeline, Mr Babu said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 26, 2005)
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