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India’s Foreign Banking Restrictions Expected to Tighten/Microloans Slow, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

Over the long term, India offers an outstanding growth opportunity to the banking industry.  India could grow into one the world’s top consumer markets, but it will be a long, slow effort.  Business and industrial growth potential is likewise outstanding, and India’s global trade should continue to soar, particularly in services.  However, foreign-owned banks from the U.S., UK and elsewhere have been expanding into India at a remarkably slow rate.  Collectively, foreign banks face restrictions which substantially limit the ability to open additional units. 
Indian banks are required to hold a large portion of their assets in government bonds, and to direct a large percentage of their loans to agriculture and other priority sectors.  Fortunately, the banking industry in India has been operating in a fairly conservative manner.
The most exciting change in India’s banking system is the recently adopted practice of making mobile banking deposits and remittances via smartphone, which is bringing true commercial banking to even the remotest villages for the first time.  Meanwhile, a practice known as “microloans” (also “microfinance” or “microlending”) is making small amounts of capital available to millions of entrepreneurs.  While such lending is sometimes managed by non-profit organizations, it has also grown into a commercial business.  Borrowers tend to receive funds of $100 to $300 or more, using that money to establish or enlarge small businesses.  For example, they may purchase a sewing machine or other tools, buy new farm animals, or purchase cooking equipment for a small restaurant.

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