Kotak Bank slashes interest rates on savings deposits 2nd time in April`

The bank had lowered the savings rates from April 1 and the new lower rates are effective Monday and comes even after reporting a healthy jump in its deposit base in the March quarter earlier this month.

The largest lender SBI that controls almost a quarter of the banking system had also slashed the pricing on its savings account deposits earlier this month to just 2.75 per cent flat.

In an email to its savings bank account holders on Sunday, Puneet Kapoor, the bank's president for products, alternate channels and customer experience delivery said, "effective April 20, the interest rates on daily balances in savings account stands revised to 4.5 per cent per annum for daily balances above Rs 1 lakh and 3.75 per cent for daily balances up to Rs 1 lakh." This is still a full 100 bps more than the SBI rate, which offers only a flat rate to everyone and 25-50 bps over the industry average, while its higher rate is still much above the both.

When contacted, the bank's spokesman told PTI that the move reflects falling interest rates scenario and will help better manage the cost of funds and pass on the benefit to borrowers.

Kotak was one of a handful banks--Yes Bank, Indusind Bank, RBI and DBS--to offer higher pricing on savings deposits that had peaked at 7 per cent for the past many years. These banks were offering higher rates to bring down their cost of funds by increasing the low-cost Casa (current and savings) accounts.

While banks like SBI and HDFC Bank have very high Casa base of over 55 per cent, the same is very low for these banks in the mid-30 to early 40s type.

A higher Casa helps banks bring down their cost of funds as there is a current account holder gets no interest on the balance in the account, the savings accounts offer 3 - 3.5 per cent on average at best.

Earlier this month, Kotak Bank had said it saw an 11.7 per cent spike in customer deposits and a 1.3 per cent jump in advances in the March quarter over the December 2019 quarter.

In the March quarter, its current account deposits grew 16.9 per cent sequentially, while the savings bank deposits jumped 14 per cent.

This comes amidst its peers including RBL Bank and Indusind Bank, which also offer 4-5 per cent interest on savings deposits have seen a dip in deposits during the quarter as the economy has been on southward ho for many quarters now, which got a deadly shock later last month due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Effective April, Kotak had reduced the rate offered for deposits of over Rs 1 lakh in the savings account to 5 per cent from 6 per cent earlier, while those under Rs 1 lakh will continue to earn 4 per cent, saying the lower pricing was to support the economy and to extend support to government effort in fighting the pandemic. The bank also pointed to the overall falling interest rates.

Kotak Mahindra Bank had recently announced the launch of its first “ATM on Wheels” facility in Mumbai. The mobile ATM will bring cash withdrawal services to local neighbourhoods during this critical period when the city is in a lockdown mode due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The mobile ATM facility is available to both Kotak customers and non-customers and will cover Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai on all days, including weekends.

Speaking about the ATM on Wheels” facility Puneet Kapoor, President - Products, Alternate Channels and Customer Experience Delivery, Kotak Mahindra Bank said, “As we fight the COVID-19 pandemic together, it is imperative that we follow all the guidelines laid down by the authorities, including not venturing out as far as possible. Kotak’s ATM on Wheels gives citizens of Mumbai convenient and easy access to cash withdrawal services in their locality.”

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