HindustanTimes Sat,27 Dec 2014

Targeting women: Banks give special products to woo female borrowers

Mahua Venkatesh, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 30, 2014
First Published: 23:41 IST(30/1/2014) | Last Updated: 01:56 IST(31/1/2014)

It’s no longer a man’s world. Even as EMIs (equated monthly installments) are showing no signs of easing, and in fact, chances are that they may go up, most banks are looking to woo women by offering them various freebies and discounts.

Several lenders, including the country’s largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) and Indian Overseas Bank, have reduced interest rates on home loans for women, while other private sector banks like ICICI Bank have come out with attractive offers for women depositors.

The government has set up the Bharatiya Mahila Bank to focus primarily on women customers. Sources said that more banks may soon come up with such offers.

"There has been a very good response even from other public sector banks and they are also increasing their focus on women and this is welcome," Rajiv Takru, financial services secretary, said.

"We have recently decided to offer home loans to women at cheaper rates and the move is to empower them," M Narendra, chairman and managing director, Indian Overseas Bank told HT.

Recently, finance minister P Chidambaram said that less than 30% of the country’s women have bank accounts. In India, the per capita credit in the case of women is 80% lower than in the case of men. Most banks have also initiated several schemes for the self-help groups in semi-urban and rural areas.

"Banks are targeting woman customers, who are widely untapped even today," said a senior executive at SBI. Several government-owned banks are also in the process of launching all women branches. Meanwhile, the government has underlined the need to focus on women and empower them.

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