Public sector banks boost digital lending under EASE reform agenda

Public sector banks are rapidly adapting to digital means as they have allowed digital lending from 83,091 crores in the fiscal year ending March 2022.

As part of the EASE 4.0 reforms, public banks have been asked to focus on digital lending, co-lending with non-banking businesses, agriculture finance and technology resilience for 24×7 banking.

The Enhanced Access and Service Excellence (EASE) program, spearheaded by the Association of Indian Banks (IBA), has also focused on data analytics, automation and digitalization.

Launched in 2018, the EASE program sets a common reform agenda for public sector banks each year. EASE aims to drive new era reforms in public sector banks (PSBs) to improve profitability, asset quality, customer service and digital capabilities.

The fourth edition of EASE focused on simplified and collaborative banking technology and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman praised the top performing banks on various metrics, according to an IBA statement.

Bank of Baroda received the top award among all PSBs for the best overall performance on PSB Reforms EASE Agenda 4.0. State Bank of India and Canara Bank ranked second and third respectively.

Indian Bank has established itself as the “Top Improver” among all PSBs.

Canara Bank won the top prize in the Institutionalizing Prudent Banking category, while in the Governance and Results Focused HR category, Union Bank of India was chosen as the leader last week.

Punjab National Bank came second in the Tech-enabled Banking category, while Punjab & Sind Bank took second place in the Top Improvement category.

As part of the EASE reforms, banks have achieved 6,597 crores of co-loans through partnerships with NBFCs in FY22. Additionally, there was onboarding of 9.4 crores of customers on mobile banking platforms and 79% of financial transactions carried out on mobile and Internet banking platforms.

The agenda for the fifth edition of EASE was unveiled earlier this year by the Minister of Finance, he said, adding that the reform agenda has now been extended to EASENext with the introduction of the program three-year strategic roadmap.

EASE 5.0 will continue to focus on driving an enhanced digital experience as well as data-driven, integrated and inclusive banking services across all banks, he said.

The three-year strategic roadmap will offer each PSO the opportunity to define its own reform path, contextualized to its starting position and strategic priorities, he added.

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