Thrissur-based ESAF Small Finance Bank is planning to open another 165 branches in the current financial year, making it one of the fastest additions in the country. At present, the bank with a customer base of about 27 lakh, has a total of 300 branches across the country.

ESAF Small Finance Bank is also looking to foray into two new states – Gujarat and West Bengal – in this fiscal, increasing its total footprint to 14. The banks’ presence now spans across 12 states including Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand among others, ESAF Small Finance Bank Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) K Paul Thomas said.

The bank will also look at an Initial Public Offering (IPO) by June 2021. “We will hit the market at the right time,” he said.

The bank has a network of 432 banking outlets (including microfinance outlets), with total loans and advances of about Rs 4,660 crore and deposits of about Rs 3,500 crore.

ESAF, which launched its small finance banking business in March 2017, gets about 99 per cent of the business from rural areas, with the majority being women borrowers, Thomas added.

On Wednesday, ESAF Small Finance Bank entered into a strategic partnership with private life insurance company PNB MetLife, which will enable the bank’s customers access the insurance firm’s financial services.

“Many middle and lower socio-economic class families from non-metro cities do not have access to the services offered by the formal finance sector. This tie-up will help PNB MetLife and ESAF SFB reach many more Indians and further the Indian Government's agenda of holistic financial inclusion,” he added.