Money & Banking

EASE 4.0 reforms agenda: PSBs to transform into ‘digital-attacker banks’

Our Bureau. Mumbai | Updated on August 25, 2021

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, flanked by Additional Secretary, Department of Financial Services, Pankaj Jain (left), and Secretary, Department of Financial Services, Debasish Panda, during the launch of Ease 4.0, in Mumbai, on Wednesday   -  PTI

Banks have been asked to come up with specific schemes for North-East: Sitharaman

 

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday unveiled a roadmap to transform all public sector banks (PSBs) into “digital-attacker banks”, working hand-in-hand with key constituents of the financial services ecosystem to offer industry-best customer experience.

The fourth edition of the EASE (Enhanced Access and Service Excellence) reforms agenda for PSBs has been unveiled in the backdrop of the amalgamation of 13 PSBs into 5 PSBs being successfully completed over the last two years.

EASE 4.0 commits PSBs to tech-enabled, simplified and collaborative banking, the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) said in a statement, adding that it aims to further the agenda of customer-centric digital transformation and deeply embed digital and data into PSBs’ ways of working.

24x7 banking

According to the IBA statement, under EASE 4.0, the theme of new-age 24x7 banking with resilient technology has been introduced to ensure uninterrupted availability of banking services by ensuring 24x7 availability of select banking channels, improving the reliability of technology platforms, and aligning internal processes in the PSBs to deliver such services.

In addition to the aforementioned new themes, several other new reforms will be added to existing themes, such as increased use of digital and data for agriculture financing through partnerships with third parties for alternative data exchange, driving impetus on digital payments in semi-urban and rural areas, at-scale adoption of doorstep banking services for PSB customers, etc.

Focus on North-East

Banks have also been asked to come up with specific schemes for the North-East, Sitharaman told reporters.

She also highlighted that the high CASA deposits in the Eastern States are a matter of concern and said banks should give a facility in the region for greater credit expansion.

While she did not comment on questions relating to privatisation of public sector banks and general insurance companies, she stressed that government will have a bare minimum presence in strategic sectors. “Banks, financial services, and insurance have been identified as strategic sectors,” she stressed.

Bad bank

Sitharaman said the proposed bad bank is very close to getting a licence. Panda said the Indian Banks’ Association has applied to the RBI and a licence for the bad bank is expected soon. Projects have also been identified, he said.

The Finance Minister also stressed that under the National Monetisation Pipeline there will be no change of ownership and ownership of assets will still remain with the Government.

“These are brownfield assets but are underutilised. If the government has to utilise it better, it has to be through monetisation process wherein it will be put to effective use with a bit more addition to spruce it up to bring it up to utilisation,” she said in response to a query.

Taking on criticism over the government’s ₹6-lakh crore monetisation plan, she pointed out that it was Congress-led governments that had raised ₹8,000 crore by monetising the Mumbai-Pune expressway and had also floated the request for proposal for the New Delhi Railway Station.

‘Inflation will cool’

Revenue Secretary Tarun Bajaj said that it is expected that inflation will come down once the crops are harvested.

“The RBI has come out with a guidance on inflation and said that the inflation, which is a little on the up, will cool down in some time, and we also feel that once the crops come out, inflation should come down,” he said, adding that it would remain within the target of four per cent to six per cent.

He also noted that the government has taken a number of supply-side measures such as reduction in the duties on a number of products, including edible oil.

Published on August 25, 2021

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