The Indian economy will be impacted due to the second wave of the Covid 19 pandemic despite a localised containment strategy adopted by the government, (SBI) chairman Dinesh Kumar Khara said in his address to shareholders.

The bank will accelerate its digital offerings and shift more and more transactions online especially through its YONO application, Khara said in his first annual general meeting (AGM) since taking over as chairman of the country’s largest bank in October 2020 for a three year term.

“The current financial year has begun with unexpected second wave of COVID-19 infections. Although the containment strategy this time included avoiding complete lockdown and managing the situation through micro-containment zones, the impact on the economy will nevertheless be felt,” Khara told shareholders.

SBI will accelerate its digital offerings and shift more and more transactions online especially through its YONO application, Khara said.

Khara said SBI is working on expanding the scope of YONO further and will add new capabilities to the bank’s digital platform especially in corporate banking and trade finance.

“Your bank (SBI) is working on providing a fully digital trade finance solution to our business customers on the YONO business platform. A digital journey has also been introduced for forex rate booking and document upload facility to enhance customer convenience, which will help SBI increase income from forex business,” Khara said.

The share of alternate channels in total transactions increased to 93% in fiscal 2021 accelerating during the pandemic period after the ourbreak in India in March 2020.

Launched in November 2017 as a mobile retail application YONO has now become the digital backbone of SBI. In February, the bank launched the YONO merchant app to provide low-cost digital payments infrastructure to 20 million merchants, especially in the Tier 3 and Tier 4 towns across the country. The bank had 35.8 million registered users on YONO as of February 2021.

Together with the digital agenda the bank will also continue to focus on recovery of bad loans in the current fiscal, Khara said.

“With the rollout of pre-package insolvency for resolution, resumption of courts and formation of National Asset Reconstruction Company (NARC), efforts will be in full force to keep the momentum in stressed asset recovery in the current financial year,” he said.

SBI is comfortably placed in terms of capital and will continue to explore opportunities for lending to diversify the portfolio and contain risk.

“The bank adjusted to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and is better positioned to tackle any subsequent wave. I am cautiously optimistic that the performance trajectory of FY2021 will continue in FY2022 as well,” Khara said.

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