Bandhan Bank, the private-sector lender to small-time borrowers, says repayments are returning to pre-pandemic level.

"The bottom of the pyramid was quick to get affected, but it was quick to recover too. The top part was impacted late and takes longer to recover. That is the advantage for us. The credits we have given have a normal repayment now. This is in line with pre-pandemic levels. That is a good sign for the future (credit offtake)," said Chandra Shekhar Ghosh, Founder and Managing Director, Bandhan Bank.

He said the trend of economic growth and credit growth appeared promising. The three key parameters of the Indian economy — the GDP growth estimate at 7-plus per cent, a moderately high inflation, and credit offtake growth of 15.1 per cent were promising, said Ghosh in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.

On the borrowing capacities of microcredit customers, Ghosh said that post the pandemic about 25 per cent of the bank's microcredit customers have graduated to small and medium enterprises loans, indicating improved borrowing capacities.

Ghosh said, "The average ticket size for loans has increased from around ₹55,000 to ₹1.15 lakh in the past two years."

He said the bank plans to expand beyond the eastern region by increasing the number of branches from 5,640 to 8,000 by 2025, mainly in western states, south India and some parts in the north.

During this fiscal, it will open 551 new branches across India, with 31 of these in Gujarat, he added. For the Gujarat market, the bank will focus on housing and SME loans. Its loan book in Gujarat is about ₹8,000 crore, including ₹5,500 crore in housing loan, while the deposit book is about ₹2,500 crore.

"We have good opportunities in Gujarat... our focus will be on housing and MSME and, by 2025, we plan to double the ₹8,000-crore advances portfolio."

The bank will open an additional 160 branches or home loan centres and increase its banking units from 113 to 400 in Gujarat by 2025. It aims to increase its customer base in Gujarat from 7.5 lakh to 75 lakh by 2025.

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