Axis Bank opens a branch in Kargil: Old strategy to restore faith in banking

I had written this Mint piece: What’s in a name? Ask banks.

I document this history of bank names in India over a 200 year period. The bankers choose names pretty wisely looking at broad sentiments and economic trends. So the names are based on founder family names, locations, nationalistic sentiments, catering to religious sentiments and so on. You see a particular pattern when certain names are chosen by most new banks during that time. And these sentiments keep coming back. Read the piece for more details.

Thus, it was interesting to read that Axis Bank is opening a branch in Kargil.

Axis Bank, India’s third largest private bank, opened a new branch at Kargil, on Monday. Shikha Sharma, Managing Director and CEO of Axis Bank, along with Kacho Ahmad Ali Khan, Chief Executive Councillor, LAHDC, Kargil, and Sanjay Silas, president and Head – Branch Banking, Axis Bank, were present to inaugurate the new branch.

The new branch will offer a comprehensive range of banking services like saving and current accounts, deposits, loans and locker facilities, to the district’s residents and the contingent of defence personnel. The Kargil branch takes the presence of Axis Bank branches in the state to 26 along with 32 ATMs.

“We are pleased to open a branch in Kargil where we hope to serve the financial needs of both the local population as well as the uniformed personnel. Our vision is to provide customer-focused digital services, especially in remote regions of the country to further foster the drive towards a digital economy and promote financial inclusion,” said Shikha Sharma.

For army personnel and pensioners, Axis Bank offers an exclusively designed salary account called the ‘Power Salute’. Apart from core banking services, it also features special services like:

  • -Rs 30 lac personal accidental cover
  • -Up to Rs 30 lac partial and total permanent disabilities cover
  • – Rs 2 lac worth of education benefits for wards of defence personnel (in case of accidental death)
  • -Zero processing fees on home, personal and auto loans

Axis Bank has also introduced a toll-free helpline number ‘1800-4198-007’ to serve the armed forces.

Here Axis Bank is using nationalistic sentiments in an interesting way. Unlike the bankname article, it is not renaming the bank. But opening a branch in a place which evokes strong nationalistic sentiments. It has even named the salary account as Power Salute.

Axis Bank even ran a twitter campaign highlighting this opening of branch. We hardly see banks especially private ones advertise while opening a new branch. The usual talk of the banking town is going digital and most advertisements are on these lines.

Thus, the bank is using old strategy of using nationalistic sentiments to gain trust in its banking services. Though most of the flak is on ICICI Bank, there has been fair criticism of Axis Bank as well.

There is obviously nothing wrong about this strategy. It is a tried and tested one.

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