IndusInd Bank on Saturday reported that nearly 84,000 loans were disbursed by its microfinance arm without the consent of customers due to a technical glitch in May 2021.
According to the private sector bank, this issue was highlighted by the field staff within two days and the technical glitch was rectified expeditiously.
“Out of the above, only 26,073 clients were active with the loan outstanding at Rs 34 crore, which is 0.12 per cent of the September-end portfolio,” the bank said in an exchange filing. The loans were disbursed through IndusInd Bank’s microfinance arm Bharat Financial Inclusion Ltd (BFIL).
“The bank carries necessary provision against this portfolio. The standard operating procedure has since been revised to make biometric authorization compulsory,” it said, adding it wishes to reiterate that there is a strong risk management and control framework in place, both within the bank and at BFIL.
“All the loan products managed by BFIL in the capacity of a Business Correspondent, are approved by IndusInd Bank and are fully compliant with extant regulatory guidelines, issued from time to time,” it said.
The processes followed by BFIL pass through audit, inspection, and risk and compliance checks, the bank said, adding that the NPA recognition process is fully automated in accordance with the regulatory norms that are applicable to the bank.
It said an independent review has been initiated by the bank to see if there is any process lapse or accounting failure at BFIL. “Should there be any need, the bank will immediately take corrective action as appropriate and keep all the stakeholders adequately informed,” it added.
“The bank strongly denies the allegations of ‘evergreening’. All the loans originated and managed by BFIL, including during the Covid period which saw the first and second waves ravaging the countryside, are fully compliant with the regulatory guidelines,” it said.
IndusInd bank, through BFIL, provides micro loans to women in rural India for income generating activities under the Joint Liability Group format. This customer segment represents the bottom of pyramid in terms of economic wealth and is the target segment for Financial Inclusion, it said.
“During the pandemic, the customers faced operational difficulties and some have turned intermittent payers, though a large part of them demonstrated a strong intent to repay on many occasions,” the bank said.
It added that all loans disbursed by BFIL are through biometric authorisation of the customers (except the technical glitch reported below).
In October 2021, nearly 100 per cent of the loan disbursements were in the bank accounts of the customers, as in pre-Covid time, it said. It said 82 per cent of the BFIL serviced customers are in rural and deep rural India where the access to banking services is limited. This issue further got aggravated owing to operational issues arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic including lockdown, containment zones, and restrictions at the village/panchayat level, and necessitated disbursement of some loans in cash, the bank added.
“The bank has been following a conservative provisioning approach and reiterates that there is no change in the credit cost estimates including that in the micro-finance business,” it further said.
According to IndusInd bank, all the loans follow a weekly repayment model and the customers are required to make payments week on week; if there is any default, the same gets recorded as missed instalments. In view of the weekly repayment model, the concept of evergreening is infeasible, it said.
“The NPA recognition process runs on a daily basis; the data from BFIL system flows directly to the centralized NPA system of the Bank, without any manual intervention,” it added.