SBI Cards has quietly zoomed past Citibank to become the second largest credit card company in the country by issuing 2.92 million cards as on August 15.
"SBI Cards has become the second largest card company by July-end and the total number of credit cards issued stands at 2.92 million as on August 15, 2006," Roopam Asthana, CEO, SBI Cards told PTI.
Asthana said on an average SBI Cards, a joint venture between State Bank of India and GE Money - issues 1.3 lakh credit cards every month.
Growing by 60-70 per cent year-on-year, SBI Cards is expected to give a tough fight to ICICI Bank, which is at present the number one credit card issuer at over 5 million.
Asthana said SBI Cards believes in giving value for money by focusing on further improving customer services and prefers to give one credit card to an individual unlike other companies who give a number of cards to a single person.
SBI Cards has developed four-pillars for rapid growth - strong distribution network, focus on salaried and self-employed, sales executives and co-branded strategy.
"Given the low credit card penetration of non-metro market, SBI Card is entering these markets," he said, adding that some locations identified include Siliguri, Indore and Gwalior.
He said the company is now present in 107 locations compared to 45 locations 2-3 years ago. Besides the salaried class, the company is focusing on getting more customers from self-employed class through some risk analysis like if the person has an account with SBI and has maintained certain level of balance.
"We have considerably increased the number of sales executives to 7,000 to reach out to customers," Asthana said. He said what differentiates, SBI Cards from others is its success in co-branded cards business model.
"Many credit cards issues by different companies have similar features. But our co-branded cards add values, which can not be duplicated by others," he said, giving examples of Tata Card, Vishal Mega Mart Card, Indian Railway Card and UBI Card.
By carrying the partner's logo prominently on the front side of the co-branded card, it becomes more acceptable to customers who identify themselves with them and have certain benefits inbuilt, which otherwise can not be availed.
"SBI cards being an independent entity with own structures selling credit cards, its database is not available to SBI or GE Money," he said.
Many reputed companies like Tata and LG and banks like United Bank of India have tied up for co-branded credit cards as data is safe and secure with the company, Asthana said. This differentiates SBI Cards from others in the industry, which are divisions banks and data is shared.
The average spend per annum on SBI Cards is Rs 21,000 on Classic (International) cards and Rs 45,000-48,000 on Gold cards.
About 30 per cent of railway tickets booked online are by using SBI Cards, Asthana said. With growing middle class, India has huge potential as large part of the country is untapped, he said.
"The personal consumption through credit cards is one of the lowest at 1 per cent in India compared to the World average of 8.6 per cent, Asia Pacific's 6 per cent and even China's 3 per cent," Asthana added.