Money & Banking

‘Top-tier banks well-placed to deal with tech disruptions’

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on January 18, 2021

But banks’ low profitability and weak asset quality present difficulties in boosting digitalisation, says S&P Global

Digital disruption poses a relatively low risk to India’s top-tier banks’ long-standing market position, according to S&P Global Ratings.

“We believe India’s top-tier private-sector banks and State Bank of India (SBI) are well-placed to deal with tech disruptions, given their dominant market positions and continued investments in technology,” said credit analyst Deepali Seth-Chhabriain a report.

The agency, however, underscored that the banking system’s low profitability and weak asset quality present some difficulties in significantly boosting digitalisation for several state-owned banks and smaller private-sector banks.

The agency said collaborations between traditional banks in India and fintech companies are likely to increase. At the same time, it believes traditional banks require considerable investments to upgrade legacy systems.

Shift to UPI

In the report, ‘Tech Disruption in Retail Banking: Top-Tier India Banks Lead the Change’, the rating agency observed that Covid-19 restrictions have been a boost for India’s major digital payment system, Unified Payment Interface (UPI).

The value of transactions processed via the UPI almost doubled in June to November 2020 from the same period a year ago, said S&P.

In India, mobile payment users are shifting away from e-wallets towards UPI, which dominated the payments market, with 51 per cent share in the total number of transactions in October 2020.

Unlike e-wallets, UPI does not lead to deposits moving out of the banking system. That allows India’s banking system to maintain an edge in the payment system.

“We expect this shift in consumer preferences to remain.

“Rising smartphone penetration, increasing internet connectivity, and the young, tech-savvy demographic segment present vast opportunities in India for existing banks and new players,” said S&P.

The agency noted that the Reserve Bank of India and the government have also been pivotal in laying the foundation and raising the bar for the development of fintech.

New technologies

Many banks in India have been quick to embrace new technologies to cater to a vast and growing, young, tech-savvy customer base, it added.

S&P said some non-bank financial companies (NBFCs) have made considerable traction in having technology-led banking solutions omnipresent in their core business models. In addition, financial institutions use artificial intelligence and machine learning not only in loan underwriting, but also customer on-boarding, cross-selling, servicing, and fraud management.

Although it believes the industry’s competitive dynamics will continue to evolve, new entrants have failed to make their mark so far.

“Payment banks in India have less than 1 per cent of the deposit market share and remain unprofitable; restrictive licences render the model rather unviable. “Big tech companies have also entered the industry, but they have not been able to encroach into the mainstays of the incumbent banks, namely lending and deposits,” said S&P.

Published on January 18, 2021

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