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COVID-19 disruption an opportunity for firms to re-strategise: UBI chief

NEW DELHI: The disruptions caused by the COVID-19 crisis also present an opportunity for businesses to re-strategise and re-invent themselves, Union Bank of India MD and CEO Rajkiran Rai G said. The banking industry is always there to support businesses but they will also have to innovate and look beyond convention, he said at a webinar organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Friday.

“The current disruption is an opportunity to re-strategise and re-invent. See for new geographies to serve, you can launch new products, see for strategic tie-ups wherever possible,” he said.

The Union Bank chief also said small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have real opportunities to plug into the global supply chain as more companies seek to diversify sourcing inputs.

Pointing out that small businesses are mostly one-man shows, he said such companies should adopt digital means for banks to assess their creditworthiness faster and more effectively.

“There are many simple softwares available, please do that because for a banker data is very important. Now when you have authentic data, you can sumbit to me and then actually my processing becomes much simpler rather than a CA created balance sheet.

“I would like to have account balance supported balance sheet where every debit and credit entry comes in and I can authenticate your balance sheet well and I can take a call on the limit (for loan),” Rai said.

He further said digital is going to be a big wave for both banks and businesses following the coronavirus pandemic.

“Like sitting at home, it (loan) gets processed. Banks have to evolve to this level as a response… to COVID. When I am saying SMEs have to evolve, you should evolve…the pandemic borne disruption is also an opportunity for enterprises, especially the SMEs, to get in tune with micro trends,” he added.

There is a lot to be done on the digitisation journey, Rai emphasised.

“We need to innovate and bring in…new ideas…At present banks are willing to help. With extra burden of future consequences, we are in a mode to help you. Together we can swim in uncharted waters.

“It is also an opportunity for conventional banks to do necessary makeovers and become agile institutions,” Rai said, addressing the industry participants.

He also said there is much talk about economic contraction this fiscal as many agencies are coming up with different figures. However, he hoped that India would prove them wrong.

“When I speak to a lot of my people,…we are almost back to normal. I was looking at my retail sanctions, my June sanctions are as good as June 2019 sanctions.

“Generally we look at metros and form opinions. Please look beyond metros, there is whole of India which is surviving and thriving. Why we should be negative, let us prove all these statisticians wrong,” he added.

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