Daijiworld Media Network - Mangaluru (ANK)
Mangaluru Aug 6: M S Mahabaleshwar Bhat is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director (MD) at locally headquartered Karnataka Bank Ltd since 2017. He spoke in an exclusive interview on Daijiworld 24x7 channel's 'Public Face' programme.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: You have led the Karnataka Bank very successfully, since a long time. How was it possible?
The contribution was not alone from my side. I owe credit to entire staff of Karnataka Bank for the achievement of the bank getting 22 awards. As many as 8,158 staff members are working for Karnataka Bank. I always say that am not working with two hands but with 16000 plus hands. Our staff have helped me and encouraged me throughout. The clients of Karnataka Bank are happy with the services provided by our bank which makes me feel proud. I dedicate these awards to our staff.
Q: Along with economic achievements, Karnataka Bank is also involved in several social activities. Can you tell about economic achievements as well as social activities that were initiated.
Karnataka Bank is very unique on its own. Society is the reason behind the growth of our bank. We entered into banking stream to fulfill the needs of the people. We have not started this bank in order to make profit and our history says it all. We are indeed a people- friendly bank. Common men with the background of medical, agriculture, small scale business and law started this bank. Karnataka Bank does not have a promoter group. People themselves are the promoters of the bank. All directors all are independent and professionals.
Twenty years ago digital revolution began which led banks to introduce core banking solution. Karnataka Bank is one among the pioneers who started net banking, debit card and mobile banking. Karnataka Bank is at the forefront when it comes to digital revolution.
Q: Karnataka Bank is people- friendly. Your role has been crucial in this. You have spoken about vision 2024. What is this?
Changes are constant. World keeps on changing and we should adapt accordingly and bring about the necessary changes. In coming days, the banking sector will see a drastic increase in people using banks for transactions. However, the number of branches will decrease because of advanced technology. The number of people visiting branches will also decrease. Banking can be defined as a technology company with banking licence. In future, there will revolution in banking sector. Karnataka bank should be relevant and significant for which we have undertaken transformation exercise with a Boston based consulting group and signed a MoU with them for 2024. We want this bank to be big, strong and vibrant by 2024.
Q: You have said that there will be more banking but less number of branches. What will happen to rural areas if number of branches comes down?
Today if you notice the banking sector, there is no much difference in rural and urban areas. Karnataka Bank provides all the facilities in rural areas as provided in urban areas. We have introduced banking correspondence and micro ATMs so that people do not come to the bank. These facilities have made banking easier and from the customer’s residence itself. When you open a branch at rural place, there are a lot of challenges as our bank is connected to core banking and have to install ATMs in all rural areas. Two challenges we have to face are connectivity and electricity. Even if we want provide 24 hours of banking, because of electricity and connectivity, it is not possible. Connectivity has improved a lot but there are electricity problems for which we have installed solar lights in banks and ATMs.
Q: There are allegations on the banking sector that if a common man takes a loan they are frequently harassed, but when corporate take loans, banks remain silent.
This is just an allegation with no truth behind it. When we give a loan we don’t see whether the borrower is poor or rich. At the same time during recovery there is no differentiation. There can be some exceptions like in farmer’s loan waiver schemes. We will create better infrastructure and increase the strength of recovery staff. We do the recovery as per prescribed law.
Q: Note ban and GST were introduced. Some people praised this move with the view of overall development and strengthening of economy, while some businessmen who run small scale industries criticized it. What is your opinion?
We need to appreciate the move of the Central government. This was a bold decision by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Demonetization and GST will have better results in future.
Q: Who is your role model and who inspires you?
I am inspired by Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya and Swami Vivekananda because at small age they sacrificed many things for the society. They are an inspiration for all.
Q: M S Mahabaleshwar Bhat is a disciplined man and gives importance for time management. Is this the secret behind your achievement?
I give importance for time because it is equal to respecting others. When you don’t give importance to time, you waste other’s time too.
Q: Any Childhood memories you want to share?
We used to walk 2 kilometers to go to school. Today we have all kinds of facilities. When you face great difficulties, then you will know the value of life and money.
Q: You have been in this banking sector for many years, which revolves around money. In order to distress what you do and what is your hobby?
Physical activity is important in your life. Whenever I have free time, I play badminton, go for a walk and do yoga. I want to advise people not to mix up family and professional life. It’s good to maintain boundary between these two.