Banks are gearing up to expand the number of women-specific branches, especially after finance minister P Chidambaram, in his budget speech on Thursday, announced the setting up of a new public sector bank for and by women.
At present, there are about 100 such branches in the country that have only women staff and the number could more than double by the end of the next fiscal year, banking sources said.
Public sector banks including State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Canara Bank and Indian Bank, which have branches with all-women staff, are looking to add new branches. These branches would also provide other services to women customers.
"At present, we have seven branches that target women customers, but we would like to increase the number to 25," TM Bhasin, chairman and MD, Indian Bank, told HT. While such branches are currently concentrated around Tamil Nadu, the new ones would come up across the country, he added.
"Anything that helps woman to access finance is good," Naina Lal Kidwai, president, FICCI and country head, HSBC India, told HT. "We should have a policy which focuses on the issue and not just this particular bank but all banks must take steps to make loans available to women."
The move is also likely to promote women entrepreneurship.