In the mid-1990s, India was gaining momentum, walking away from a socialist past, but banking still meant corporate banking with little focus on retail lending. It was as if the retail customer did not exist and little attention was paid to investing in technology or creating a branch infrastructure. But, a lender with a hoary past, ICICI - short for Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India - changed this with aggression in marketing, competitive pricing and doses of innovations. There were compelling reasons: a fast changing demographic profile and falling cost of money.
"The only way to make a mark in the consumer banking business was to attain scale," says Chanda Kochhar, CEO, ICICI Bank. Some of its firsts were 8 to 8 banking, online savings bank account opening facility, hub and spoke model for auto and home loans, and the concept of floating rate for home loans. It set up 3,000 ATMs over two years at a time India had just 200 to 300 ATMs. Today, Indian banks have more than a quarter of their lending portfolio in retail assets; ICICI Bank is ranked second among banks.
By Anusha Subramanian, Anand Adhikari, K.R. Balasubramanyam, Rajiv Bhuva, Josey Puliyenthuruthel,G. Seetharaman and Sunny Sen