Bandhan, first micro finance company to start operation as a commercial bank

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Bandhan Bank has become the first micro-finance company in India to start operation as full-fledged scheduled commercial bank.

The bank was inaugurated by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Kolkata, ushering in a new era in country’s banking sector to reach out to the unbanked population.

Key facts

  • Bandhan Bank has begun its operations after it had received an in-principle approval from the Reserve Bank of India in April 2014 and final nod on June, 2015.
  • It was established in 2001 as a not-for-profit micro-finance enterprise by Chandra Shekhar Ghosh with an aim to alleviate poverty by empowering women. Later in 2006, it had transformed itself into a non-banking finance company (NBFC).
  • Bandhan Bank will now primarily cater to the unorganized sector in India like daily wage earners and women running small businesses.
  • Headquarters is in Kolkata.
  • It has two divisions viz. micro banking and general banking.
  • As a bank, it will also offer services like savings, remittance and insurance services. Presently, it has 501 branches, 2022 service centres and 50 ATMs across 24 states.
  • Over 71 per cent of its branches are in rural India including 35 per cent in unbanked rural pockets. State-wise, West Bengal has highest 220 branches, followed by Bihar (67), Assam (60), Maharashtra (21), Uttar Pradesh and Tripura (20 each) and Jharkhand (15).
  • It should be noted that prior to starting operation as commercial bank, Bandhan was World’s largest Non-Deposit-accepting Microfinance Institution (MFI) and India’s largest microfinance company.