A customer waits to deposit Indian 100 rupee banknotes at a counter inside an Axis Bank Ltd. branch in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Jana Small Finance Bank Commences Operations, Aims 500 Outlets By 2019

Jana Small Finance Bank, which commenced its banking operations today, plans to set up over 500 banking outlets by 2019 and expand its reach to unbanked rural areas.

Jana Small Finance Bank, formerly known as Janalakshmi Financial Services, said it will initially open 19 branches in 18 states.

By June this year, the bank expects branch expansion to reach 200 banking outlets inclusive of 25 percent unbanked rural branches by June 2018.

The focus will continue to be on financial inclusion, as the core strategy of the bank, with digitally-enabled service offerings, said the Bengaluru headquartered SFB.

"Financial inclusion has been the primary vision of Jana Group. We see the commencement of banking operations duly supported by the digital capabilities to scale quickly and present powerful opportunities to bridge the overall financial inclusion gap," said Ramesh Ramanathan, Chairman, Jana Group.

Jana Bank will also convert majority of its MFI branches into full-fledged bank branches and will have over 500 banking outlets by end of 2019, he said.

Ajay Kanwal, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Jana Small Finance Bank, said the bank will create a strong and differentiated franchise to serve the underserved with world-class governance and execution.

In September 2015, the Reserve Bank of India had granted in-principle approval to 10 applicants for small finance bank (SFB) licenses including Au Financiers, Disha Microfin, Equitas Holdings, ESAF Microfinance, Janalakshmi Financial Services and Ujjivan Financial Services.

Utraksh Micro Finance, Suryoday Micro Finance, RGVN (North East) Microfinance and Capital Local Area Bank are the remaining firms.

SFBs are allowed to undertake basic banking services such as acceptance of deposits, lending to unserved and underserved, including small business units, small and marginal farmers, micro and small industries and the unorganised sector entities.