State Bank of India launches debit card in Canada

July 31st, 2008 - 2:05 pm ICT by IANS  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, July 31 (IANS) State Bank of India (SBI) has launched its first debit card in Canada to raise its client profile here. SBI is also looking at 84 locations globally to increase its association with international business, chairman O.P. Bhatt said Wednesday while launching the card here.

With seven branches across Canada, the State Bank of India-Canada (SBIC) - SBI’s 100 percent-owned subsidiary - claims to have captured 65 percent of the trade conducted between that country and India.

The debit card will allow cash withdrawal at all cash vending machines at SBIC branches, and will be accepted in the US and around the world, including India where the SBI has 14,000 automated teller machines (ATMs).

SBIC clients will also get access to other ATMs around the world displaying Interac, Cirrus and Maestro symbols.

Additionally, the debit card can be used for purchases from merchant members in Canada, the US and other countries.

“The debit card will provide our clients with access to their money around the clock and around the world,” said SBIC president and chief executive Arun Nagaranjan.

Unveiling the debit card at a gala dinner Wednesday night, Bhatt, who had flown in from India, said the launch completed SBI’s product profile in Canada 26 years after it started operations here.

With the Indian economy growing at a rate of about nine percent and its exports and imports increasing by 20 to 25 percent annually, the SBI chairman said his bank was ready for increasing its global presence to meet demands of its business clients.

“Till last year, our international business contributed seven percent to our balance sheet, and about seven percent of our profits. This year, it went up to 10-11 percent. We want to raise this figure to 25 percent in the next five years,” he said.

Bhatt said SBI had to expand outside India as 50 percent of business houses engaged in international business banked with it.

“Since we are the largest financial service provider in India, we have to go where our clients do business. We are looking at 84 locations around the world to increase our engagement with international business,” he said.

Bhatt said SBIC, despite being a 100 percent-owned subsidiary, was actually a Canadian bank as it was incorporated here. “Thus, it enjoyed all the advantages of a Canadian bank and the advantages of its parent bank - the SBI,” he said.

“The bank has already captured about 65 percent of the total trade between India and Canada. But given our advantages, we would like to capture a larger percentage.”

The second area for business abroad, Bhatt said, involved capturing the non-resident Indian (NRI) segment - whether it is their remittances or their local businesses.

“Increasingly, SBI is offering facilities of banking transactions for NRIs to meet their requirements such as buying a house in India,” he said.

The third area of thrust for the SBI in its bid to expand global operations was to increase its operations in the retail and corporate sector.

Bhatt also said SBI planned more branches in Canada, possibly next year.

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