Post-Pandemic Banking

The business of collecting money in the form of deposits on one hand and lending money on another in the shape of loans and advances will witness a fundamental shift in the post-Covid world.

The banking sector in India attained consolidation in recent times. Hence, garnering deposits will not be a major challenge. However, identifying credible borrowers (individuals and corporates) will be extremely tricky.

Credit underwriting is the science and art of lending in anticipation of timely receipt of interest and principal by identifying the:

  • right borrower
  • right amount
  • right interest rate
  • right kind of collateral

If borrowers pay promptly, the need for provisioning requirements will be low resulting in a healthy bottom line. This improves credit rating of banks making it easier to raise funds from multiple sources at competitive rates paving the way to a virtuous cycle.

Slowdown & Lockdown:

But, this time it is different because the Indian economy slowed down in the last quarter of FY19. When the WHO declared COVID-19 as a pandemic on 12th March 2020, the government announced a strict national lockdown at short notice from March 25 which is still continuing till May 31, 2020. As economic activities came to a standstill, corporate sector in general and MSME (Micro, Small, and Medium enterprises) in particular bore the brunt. In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the RBI announced on 27th March a three-month moratorium across all kinds of loan products (including credit cards and working capital) where the payments were falling due during March 1 – May 31, 2020. As the COVID-induced lock-downs got extended, the industry could not restart. The RBI had no other option but to double the moratorium to 6 months.

Borrowers in banking parlance are classified into special mention accounts (SMA-1 & SMA-2) and non-performing assets (NPA).
SMA-1 are loan repayments overdue between 31 and 60 days;
SMA-2 between 61-90 days.
NPA is: if either the interest/principal amount is overdue beyond 90 days.

Debt Moratorium & Asset Quality:

Majority of the MSME were financially stressed and their payments fell behind much before Feb 29, 2020 due to a lull in the economy. Hence, bankers wanted this window to be stretched so that it can capture defaults on or before Feb 29 as against March 1. This is because of the fact that borrowers in the MSME space to the tune of Rs 50,000 Crore moved from SMA-2 to NPA stage by March 1, 2020. Nevertheless, the RBI has not entertained any such requests and payments overdue before Feb 29 will attract the current Income Recognition and Asset Classification (IRAC) guidelines. Thus, a “default” as on 1st March, 2020 continues to be a default, but during the 3-month disrupted period the ageing of the default cannot be increased. It is believed that around 35-45% of the loan-book of the banking system has availed the moratorium facility as credit rating will not be impacted during this dispensation period.

Impact of Toxic Assets:

Looking at the evolving scenario from the banking perspective, the cash flow position weakened further due to successive lockdowns as it exacerbated the repaying ability of all kinds of borrowers.

Indian Banks Association (IBA) wanted to get away with lower provisioning and hence requested the RBI to:
• Consider extension of loans provided,
• Treat overdue accounts as standard loans, or
• Classify overdue accounts as a standard restructured asset

Rating firm CRISIL believes that NPAs of the banking sector would worsen to 11-11.50% (up by 150-200 bps) by March 2021 due to weak collections and resolutions during lock-downs. Going forward, banks will look every request and account through a microscope to avoid stepping into the puddle of bad loans. But, the rebooted economy needs liberal loan facility which means dilution of underwriting standards.

Future-enabled Banking Skills:

In the past two decades, banking sector competed with information technology in creating more than one lakh jobs annually and hiring the best talent. But, the significant progress made on the technology front had vanished mundane jobs of verifying KYC, depositing cash, and updating passbook to name a few. Usage of robotics, chatbots, and virtual assistants in banking transactions had made jobs redundant. Setting up of a credit repository like CIBIL had provided information along with automated credit scoring, reduced the need for credit analysts. To make matters worse, the consolidation of public sector banks in recent times would slowdown hiring across the board. There is light at the end of the tunnel as bankers of the future would be those who will leverage technology in understanding customer needs, nurturing relationships, assessing credit-worthiness (judgmental underwriting), enhancing customer satisfaction, investing wisely, and collecting efficiently. There is no substitute for a good learning attitude, strong work ethics, robust intelligence and judgment, and customer-centricity.


1) What are the repercussions of treating existing loan defaults as standard loans?

2) How do we differentiate between the ‘ability to pay’ and ‘willingness to pay’ during moratorium?

3) What are the key skills that will be in demand in an era of pandemic banking?

4) In technology-driven banking business, how do we create and sustain customer value?

Dr. A Srihari Krishna
Dr. A Srihari Krishna

Dr A Srihari Krishna holds dual master’s degree in business administration as well as in finance & accounting.

He started his career as business journalist with ICFAI in 1993 where he tracked capital and currency markets for reporting in the ANALYST magazine.
Subsequently, in 1995 he joined Swell Financial Services – a merchant banking firm as a equity research analyst where he managed IPOs and structured venture capital/private equity deals.
In 1999, he joined academics and served institutions like Siva Sivani Institute of Management as an associate professor.
After submitting the doctoral thesis on “Monetization of Shareholder Wealth” in Osmania University during May 2006, he joined GE Money Servicing as a learning manager. He had trained credit underwriters on risk management practices across India and partner sites in the USA. He left GE in 2011 and since then remained a freelancer involved in teaching, training, and consulting.

Currently, he is an advisor with Engineering Staff College of India, visiting professor at Amity Business School, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Galgotia University, ITM Vocational University, and Symbiosis University of Applied Sciences.

He also provides academic support to varied learning products of IFHE for their executive MBA program in the capacity of an adjunct faculty.

  • All rights are reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or copied in any form by any means without written permission.
  • The views expressed in this publication are purely personal judgments of the authors and do not reflect the views of The Icfai Society
  • The views expressed by the contributors represent their personal views and not necessarily the views of the organizations they work/represent
  • All efforts are made to ensure that the published information is correct. The Icfai Society is not responsible for any errors caused due to oversight or otherwise

1 thought on “Post-Pandemic Banking”

  1. subrahmanyam says:

    Ability to pay made the individual to take loan probably. Willingness can be attributed to ash flow availability. Some may begetting partial salary, some full but are not sure of medical exigencies, ….A responsible borrower knows that ultimately he needs to pay.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Post

%d bloggers like this: