Looking to expand the reach of their bank to the furthest reaches of rural India, on Sept. 4, ICICI Bank Ltd. (IBN) unveiled a mobile “branch-on-wheels,” a major innovation designed to address the lack of banking resources available to the most rural residents of India. With two employees, a cash recycler, and even an ATM, the mobile bank will provide much-needed services to some of the most marginalized residents of the country.
Coupled with their successful outreach program, the bank rallied the same day following indications from new Central Bank chief Raghuram Rajan that much-needed reforms would soon reshape the country’s financial sector. Of specific importance to ICICI, Rajan indicated that in January 2014 the country would begin issuing more banking licenses, and double the bank’s overseas borrowing limit.
Rajan has been looked at as the potential savior of the suffering Indian economy, as the country struggles against a dwindling rupee and outdated financial laws. Before any of his measures have been enacted, the Indian economy is already responding well to his proposals.
ICICI already specializes in penetrating into markets without any banking services, with over 350 branches opened in rural areas since 2010. The innovative mobile banking units will help ICICI expand at a sustained clip into previously untapped areas, and the new bank licenses frees the way for ICICI to continue rapid expansion with more traditional branches.
Like many major players in the Indian banking sector, ICICI is down significantly on the year, dropping 37.22 percent. However, the news of mobile-banking innovation and Rajan’s shake-ups, the bank’s stock skyrocketed.
ICICI was up 13.25 percent on the day to hit $30.52 a share.