People pass a branch of the Standard Chartered Bank on Mint Road in Mumbai. (Photographer: Santosh Verma/Bloomberg News.)

Standard Chartered Is Downsizing Its India Banking Operations

Foreign lender Standard Chartered Bank, which has significant retail operations in India, is downsizing across its retail banking division as more and more customers move online, according to people familiar with the matter.

The bank will let go of about 200 staff members, mostly in branch banking operations, said the people cited earlier. The bank has seen customers shift towards online payments and transactions in a significant way, particularly since 2017 when the lender strengthened its digital offerings, said a person familiar with the matter. Close to 85 percent of the bank’s payment transactions happen online. More than 80 percent of on-boarding of new customers is also through online channels.

As a result of this shift in customer preferences, functions such as cash tellers and other positions at bank branches have become redundant.

Standard Chartered Bank employs about 7,300 people in its banking operations in India. As such, the downsizing will impact a small percentage of the lender’s staff.

Also read: Standard Chartered to Cut Dubai, Singapore Jobs

“We have been working on multiple initiatives, including digitisation, to drive performance. With enhanced digital capabilities, we are seeing a significant increase in adoption of digital channels by our Retail Banking customers, primarily through the Net and Mobile banking,” said a spokesperson for the bank. “As a result of this transition, a small number of Retail Banking roles have fallen away.”

The spokesperson added that the bank is working closely with employees to finalise fair separation packages and outplacement services.

Standard Chartered is not alone in experiencing this shift. Most banks are seeing increasing adoption of digital channels for services ranging from payments to deposit management and now even lending.

In a consumer survey conducted earlier this year, PwC India had identified five key theme emerging for digital banking. The survey had found that customers prefer to transact most on the mobile yet the need for branches has not gone away.

In keeping with this customer behaviour many banks have retained branches but reduced the staff at each branch as a way to trim costs.

Even at Standard Chartered, while the bank is reducing staff, the number of branches remains unchanged.

Also read: Standard Chartered May Face Another Fine for Iran Sanctions Breaches