* Sees 30 pct growth in personal loans over 2-3 years
* Says "comfortable" with asset quality of all product lines
By Sumeet Chatterjee
MUMBAI, March 5 Citigroup Inc
expects to increase the number credit card customers it has in
India by more than 20 percent a year over the next two to three
years as it looks to boost its unsecured business portfolio in
the country, a senior Citi executive said.
The bank, which is building up its retail business in India,
also expects to increase its personal loan portfolio by 30
percent a year over that period, Anand Selva, head of consumer
banking for Citi in India, told Reuters on Monday.
Foreign banks in India including Citi slashed unsecured
lending after personal loans and credit card debt turned bad
following the global financial crisis in 2008.
The banks have boosted unsecured lending over the past year
to tap into a market where only about 17 million people out of a
population of 1.2 billion use credit cards.
In China, more than 200 million people have credit cards,
industry officials say. Many Indian consumers are yet to warm up
to the idea of credit cards, preferring to use debit cards
Citi, one of the top three foreign commercial banks in India
along with Standard Chartered and HSBC, has
about 2.2 million credit card customers in India.
"We are very focused on building up our cards business,"
Selva, who ran Citi's consumer banking unit in China from 2008
before taking up the new role in India in July 2011, said after
launching a new retail banking service in Mumbai.
"I was quite surprised when I saw that there were only 17
million cards in India for a large population. That is very
small. I do believe there is a huge opportunity in the country."
Foreign banks lack the branch networks of local
lenders like ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank,
India's biggest card issuers, but tend to attract the most
well-heeled customers in a country where incomes are rising
Selva said the bank was looking for credit card and personal
loan customers outside its pool of commercial banking clients in
the country, but it had beefed up due diligence to restrict
loans turning sour.
Citi, the third largest U.S. bank by assets,
operates across businesses including corporate, consumer and
investment banking, and wealth management in India.
"We are very comfortable with the asset quality in all our
product lines, mainly cards, mortgage and personal loans," he
said, adding Citi's mortgage business in India should continue
to grow at 15-20 percent a year for the next couple of years.