South African lender FirstRand Bank has
postponed the launch of its retail branch in India from early
December to a later date in January 2012.

FirstRand, South Africa’s second-largest bank
by market value, has been advised by the property developer and the
local municipality in Mumbai – where FirstRand was supposed to set
up its first Indian branch – that the building will not be ready
for occupation in early December. 

CEO retail and commercial banking fro
FirstRand, Bobby Madhav, said in a statement to RBI:

“FirstRand cannot take possession of the space
for the purpose of shop fitting and the installation of banking
infrastructure necessary to commence trading cannot commence as

FirstRand plans to become the first African bank to offer retail
banking in India

FirstRand already holds a full commercial
banking licence in India, and has a presence in Mumbai.

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Madhav added that “various unforeseen elements
have contributed to the delay of handing over a completed building
on the anticipated date”.

In September, Michael Jordaan, CEO of First
National Bank (FNB), a subsidiary of FirstRand, told

“Similar to our successful foray into Africa,
FNB’s entry into the Indian market will be via a greenfields or
startup strategy, where the bank will set up full retail and
commercial banking capabilities in-country. 

“This will allow capital to be deployed
incrementally with reliance to be placed on established, home-grown
systems and processes.”

FNB will be trading as FRB (FirstRand Bank) in
India. In time products such as eWallet and cellphone banking show
great promise in India where traditional, branch-based growth is
still constrained by regulation, said Madhav.