Lloyds TSB has finally launched its new specialized banking service aimed at the estimated 1.2 million Indians living in the UK, the first of its kind from a high street bank. The new service was developed following the formation of an alliance between Lloyds and India's largest private sector bank, ICICI Bank, in December 2003, enabling ICICI to distribute its products and services to Lloyds' customers through selected branches.
To gain access to the new products and services, customers must first open an account with Lloyds, which will then open a second account with ICICI on their behalf. Customers will then be able to use services such as free money transfers between the UK and India, with preferential exchange rates, access to ICICI's 560-strong Indian branch network, and rupee mortgages for purchasing property in India.
According to Lloyds TSB, this latest venture is part of a drive to win more business from the UK's ethnic groups. The company has also launched Islamic current accounts and mortgages in recent months.
Although the alliance enables Lloyds to offer a targeted product and service range, this alone will not guarantee its success, as many non-resident Indians have long-standing relationships with companies already offering such services. However, by linking up with ICICI, Lloyds can exploit its partner's existing customer relationships and experience in serving the Indian population.
In addition to this, one of the real bonuses for Lloyds is the opportunity the deal offers to get a foot in the door of the Indian banking market. With over a billion people domiciled in India, this market has significant potential and has been attracting marked interest from retail, private and investment banks alike. By teaming up with ICICI, Lloyds has taken an important first step in building its brand awareness within Indian communities both at home and on the subcontinent, and will be well placed to learn from ICICI's expertise in this area.