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First National Bank plans retail operations in India

Johannesburg: First National Bank (FNB) plans to open its retail branch in Mumbai by the end of the year, becoming the first South African bank to enter the Indian retail banking sector.

“By the end of the year, we hope to have an actual functioning branch in Mumbai with tellers and ATM’s,” the daily Business Day quoted FNB chief executive Michael Jordaan as saying.

Mr. Jordaan said the expansion into retail banking would enable the bank to benefit from both investment and trade flows between India and South Africa.

The retail branch will trade as FirstRand Bank, which already has a trade finance operation in India.

FirstRand is FNB’s holding company.

The expansion into India is part of the planned growth in foreign markets by FNB, South Africa’s third largest banking group.

“But we see two important trends that will influence Africa’s destiny — and these will be linkages with India and China,” Mr. Jordaan said.

“We do not have ambitions in China but we see much potential in India. We think it is an excellent market and the technology we have in South Africa can find applications in the Indian market.”

FNB hopes to entice Indian consumers into using banking via mobile phones, an area where it is the market leader in South Africa with more than three million customers.

Mr. Jordaan believed that the 800 million mobile phone users in India presented an ideal opportunity for this service.

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