HDFC Bank to open more than 675 branches in semi-urban, rural areas in FY24 - official

FILE PHOTO: A bird flies past a window of a HDFC Bank branch office in Mumbai

By Siddhi Nayak

MUMBAI (Reuters) - HDFC Bank, India's largest private lender, is planning to open more than 675 branches in the semi-urban and rural geographies across the country in 2023-24, a senior bank official said on Thursday.

The move is part of the lender's new programme targeting customers in semi-urban and rural areas, helping the bank meet some of its Priority Sector Lending (PSL) targets.

PSL requirements, which include lending to weaker segments of the economy, are linked to an organisation's loan book.

The move would take the total number of branches in these locations to around 5,000 in this fiscal year, Arvind Vohra, group head – retail branch banking at HDFC Bank, said at the programme's launch.

The bank had 7,821 branches and 19,727 automated teller machines across 3,811 cities and towns in India as on March 31, as per data released on the bank's website. Of this, around 52% of the bank's branches are in the semi-urban and rural areas.

The bank expects to onboard 100,000 customers in these regions through the programme.

Last month, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) permitted HDFC Bank to meet PSL requirements in a staggered fashion over three years to smooth out its merger with its parent company Housing Development Finance Corp.

At the end of the first year after the merger, the combined entity will need to include one-third of HDFC's loan book to calculate the amount of PSL required, the RBI had said.

Going forward, HDFC Bank aims to double business in semi-urban and rural areas - both by assets and liabilities - in the next two-to-three years, Vohra said.

(Reporting by Siddhi Nayak; Editing by Janane Venkatraman)