ICICI Bank's Credit Card: Journey to Asian Leadership
When ICICI, an Indian private bank entered the retail banking market in the 1990's with little technology infrastructure, capital and retail expertise, few had expected it to succeed. Public sector banks, holding 75% of deposits, were dominating the retail banking market, while foreign giants had cornered the market for high-net-worth individuals living in the major cities across India. With a strategy to offer credit cards to the middle class, abolish annual fees and enter into partnerships with major retailers, ICICI quickly proved the sceptics wrong. Revenues per employee grew to over US$9 million compared with about US$3 million for the Bank of India and slightly below US$160,000 for Standard Chartered. The lofty number one position was achieved by Vaidyanathan, ICICI's head of retail, and his team. Their progressive initiatives were focused on developing new products and improving consumer service experiences. As the 2008-2009 financial crisis tripled the percentage of non-performing assets in the Indian banking industry, Vaidyanathan had to plan how ICICI would adopt to the new environment and maintain industry leadership.