The state-owned SBI has released a new online forex platform, “SBI eforex”. The new product allows the bank’s customers to book their foreign exchange transactions online without having to physically visit a branch.
Headquartered in Mumbai, SBI is the largest banking and financial services company in India by assets (US$388 billion), with 17,000 branches, including 190 foreign offices.
Chairman of SBI, Arundhati Bhattacharya, described SBI eforex as secure, user-friendly, fast and convenient. “It is a highly flexible product offering the facility to the customers to customize and set their own limits for deal size, daily transaction limits etc. Details of all deals done are made available to the users on a realtime basis.”
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The product represents SBI’s second forex technology launch in two months, the bank having previously released “Fx Out”, which enables users to send foreign currency remittances from any SBI branch in India.
As the world’s second most populous country, India has one of the lowest rates of bank account holders among its population as compared to other emerging market economies, which particularly affects its rural communities. The new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has pledged to ramp-up the number of Indians holding a bank account in a bid to end “financial untouchability” and to increase the number of citizens participating in the economy.
The scheme relies on online and mobile banking technologies, with mobile phone penetration in India at 70%. With the development of online banking facilities such as SBI eforex, customers who may not live within close physical proximity to a branch can still access financial services via their mobile device.
Forex transactions are particularly significant in India, which is the world’s leading receiver of remittances, claiming around $70 billion in 2013-14.