Equitas Small Finance Bank Limited, a subsidiary of India’s Equitas Holdings Limited, recently began operations with three branches in Chennai, offering deposit accounts with interest rates of six to 7.5 percent per year.
Successive interest rate cuts by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) since 2015 have led to decreasing cost of funds for microfinance institutions (MFI) and a reduction in lending rates to end customers.
“Voice of the Client: An analysis of client satisfaction and consumer protection across four microfinance institutions in Peru,” by J. Foelster, A. Pierantozzi, M. Pistelli; published by the Microfinance Information Exchange (MIX) in collaboration with Hivos People Unlimited; February 2016; 31 pages; available at: http://www.themix.org/sites/default/files/Voice%20of%20the%20Client%20Peru_0.pdf
The Reserve Bank India (RBI), the nation’s central banking authority, has eased the maximum allowance of a variance of 4 percent between minimum and maximum interest rates on loans by microfinance institutions (MFIs) in order to encourage the provision of cheaper loans to those members of Scheduled Castes (SC), historically disadvantaged people in India, who earn less than double the international poverty line defined by the United Nations (UN) as USD 1.25 per day.
Bandhan Bank, an Indian commercial bank based in Kolkata, recently announced that it plans to open one branch each in the cities of Bengaluru, Koramangala and Bannerghatta, all of which are located in southern India.
The Microfinance Institutions Network (MFIN), a trade organization composed of 47 Indian microlenders, has advised its members to reduce their interest rates voluntarily by “at least 25 basis points”  by the end of September 2015.
Starbucks Coffee Company, a US-based coffee retailer, recently announced that it would commit an additional USD 30 million to its Global Farmer Fund program, one of the organization’s “ethical sourcing initiatives” that aims to ensure the sustainability of the organization’s production chain up to 2020.
The Indonesian government intends to disburse IDR 30 trillion (USD 2.2 billion) in small business loans under its Kredit Usaha Rakyat (KUR) program, which is intended to provide credit to micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and cooperatives.
Indian microfinance institution SKS Microfinance, which is listed on India’s National Stock Exchange and the Bombay Stock Exchange, announced recently that it would reduce its microloan interest rates from 23.55 percent to 22 percent as of July 1, 2015.
Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI), Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) and Bank Mandiri, three state-owned banks in Indonesia, will resume efforts to distribute IDR 20 trillion (USD 1.5 billion) during 2015 via the microloan program Kredit Usaha Rakyat (KUR) .
Countering the perception that youth are riskier borrowers than older clients, Maria Perdomo, the manager of the UN Capital Development Fund’s YouthStart program, recently presented data from seven African microfinance institutions (MFIs) showing that all but one have lower rates of portfolio at risk (PAR) within the segments of their portfolios serving youth than organization-wide. Nonetheless, she noted, youth often make up a disproportionately small share of an MFI’s customer base because loan officers believe they are less likely than others to repay, which would threaten the bonus that many loan officers receive when more of their clients do repay their loans.
To open the two-day conference portion of European Microfinance Week, which is hosted by the 130-member, Luxembourg-based European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP), panelists and attendees addressed “Balancing financial inclusion, market stability and client protection.” Narda Sotomayor, who leads the Department of Microfinance Analysis at Peru’s Superintendencia de Banca, Seguros y Administradoras Privadas de Fondos de Pensiones, stated that “MFIs [microfinance institutions] moving further down market to serve new people is risky, as this group has less financial education, less collateral. An institution’s credit portfolio can deteriorate quickly unless its lending methodology is revised as part of a dynamic process.” On the issue of increasing financial capability, she added, “We find synergies between financial education and stability. This also leads to benefits for institutions and the whole system.”
The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), a development bank in India that formulates certain credit and banking policies, recently announced the launch of the long-term rural credit fund, which will provide INR 5,000 crores (USD 807 million) for refinancing agricultural loans disbursed by cooperative banks and regional rural banks (RRBs).
According to a statement attributed to Mr. Collins Amponsah, the board chairman of the Ghana association of microfinance companies (GAMC), an association of 560 member companies providing microfinance services, all Ghanaian microfinance institutions (MFIs) that are members of GAMC will begin charging clients an unspecified fee for managing their deposits beginning in October of 2014.
President Goodwill Jonathan of Nigeria officially launched the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Development Fund at the eighth MSME finance conference in Abuja, Nigeria, where he announced the provision of NGN 870 million (USD 5.36 million) from the NGN 220 billion (USD 1.36 billion) fund to four beneficiaries
The Microcredit Regulatory Authority (MRA), a Bangladeshi government body that oversees the operations of nongovernmental organization (NGO) microfinance institutions (MFIs), reportedly has issued a warning to MFIs in the country in response to violations of MRA regulations such as the requirement of a 15-day grace period on new loans before collecting loan repayments as well as the use of a declining-balance method of calculating interest.
Bandhan Financial Services, a microfinance institution (MFI) based in the Indian city of Kolkata, reportedly announced that it has reduced its lending rate by 50 basis points, or 0.5 percent, bringing its annual interest rate down to 22.4 percent.
The National Bank of Rwanda, which is known by its French acronym BNR, has announced that it will maintain the key repurchase (repo) rate, the rate at which commercial banks borrow from the central bank, at 7 percent.