The article was published in The Hindu Business line on October 8, 2013:
Banking licence aspirant and global money transfer and foreign exchange service provider UAE Exchange plans to strengthen its network in India beyond South, to grow its remittance business. In an interview with Business Line, B.R. Shetty, MD and CEO, said he wants to grow his Abu Dhabi-based company into a financial supermarket. Excerpts:
Forex remittance is your main business. How has the growth been so far?
In the first six months of 2013, our remittance business grew by 15-18 per cent, while foreign exchange business showed a 12-15 per cent growth. In India, our loan business (which includes loan against gold jewellery and vehicle loan) exhibited a growth of around 25 per cent.
We are constantly working on our expansion globally, be it venturing into new markets or strengthening our branch network. We are also intensively promoting our new products such as FLASHremit (the facility for real time account credit), remittance cards etc.
Your presence is mostly in the southern region and about half your branches are outside India. Will this limit your case? How do you plan to go forward?
Though southern India is our strong hold, we have a significant presence across the country with around 328 branches in 20 States. Of the total number of branches, 147 are in tier-2 to tier-6 centres. We also have 50,000 agent locations across the country, which strengthen our presence further. Hence, we don’t see any limitation at all.
What makes you feel you would get a licence?
We have been handling people’s money with utmost care since three decades, globally. Hence customers trust us.
Since most of them are Indians, we enjoy a strong bonding with the Indian community. A majority of our customers belong to the bottom of the economic pyramid. Our understanding of their requirements and aspirations is rich and they trust us for that. Strong connection with this segment of customers gives us an edge.
If you bag a licence, what will be your immediate focus area?
We will focus on setting up our banking operations effectively within the stipulated time of 18 months. The emphasis will be on network expansion and working towards the vision of financial inclusion. Our approach for this will be based on “Triple A” principles, namely Affordability, Accessibility and Availability.
In case you don’tget a licence, how do you plan to strategise your business?
To answer your question, we will continue to serve the NRIs, which is our forte. We will continue to cater to the growing loan segment and build our repertoire of services, thus shaping UAE Exchange into a financial supermarket. But in all cases, technology will play a vital role.
What are your other business areas?
UAE Exchange contributes around six per cent of the total global remittances.
Other than financial services, our business interests are in healthcare services, distribution services and pharmaceutical manufacturing sectors.