Special Correspondent

BANGALORE: Union Bank of India announced on Saturday the launch of a new facility that enables its online banking customers to generate their own high-security passwords within 48 hours. The bank’s Chairman and Managing Director, M. V. Nair, said the bank was the first public sector bank to provide such a facility. “Only two other private banks offer a similar facility,” he said.

Mr. Nair said the bank had, by the end of March 2009, “restructured” 1.13 lakh loan accounts, totalling an outstanding amount of Rs. 2,950 crore. This includes 170 accounts with outstandings of more than Rs. 1 crore each, totalling Rs. 1,650 crore. The bank has also restructured 30,000 accounts of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) clients, totalling Rs. 700 crore.

The balance Rs. 600 crore of outstanding loans restructured are those drawn by small borrowers, which include car and housing loans, Mr. Nair said. “Only viable accounts have been restructured,” he added.

Mr. Nair said “alternate” banking channels involving platforms such as ATMs, the Internet and mobile phones accounted for about 23 per cent of the volume of all transactions of the bank at the end of March 2009. He said such transactions accounted for only 6 per cent of the bank’s total volume of transactions in 2008. In 2010, the bank expects the share of such transactions to touch 35 per cent.

Mr. Nair said a large proportion of the bank’s “new and young users prefer the new channels”.

Referring to the lending undertaken by public sector banks, Mr. Nair said the “total volume of loan sanctions between October 2008 and May 2009 has increased by 150 per cent when compared with the same period of the previous year.