India’s HDFC Bank has unveiled plans to expand its reach to 200,000 villages over the following 18-24 months.

According to local news reports, the lender will bolster its rural presence using a combination of multiple strategies which includes opening of physical branches, hiring business correspondents and strengthening digital outreach among others.

HDFC Bank will also recruit 2,500 people in the next six months to support the expansion.

Currently, the bank’s rural banking services are available in 100,000 Indian villages. It serves micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in more than 550 districts.

HDFC Bank group head- commercial and rural banking Rahul Shukla was quoted as saying: “India’s rural and semi-urban markets are under-served in credit extension. They present sustainable long-term growth opportunities for the Indian banking system.

“HDFC Bank remains committed to extending credit responsibly in service of the nation. Going forward, we dream of making ourselves accessible in every pin code.”

HDFC Bank is one of the first to receive approval to establish a private sector bank in India. Currently, the lender has 5,653 branches and 16,291 ATMs across the country.

It primarily offers retail banking, wholesale banking and treasury services.

Earlier this month, HDFC Bank partnered with Paytm to introduce co-branded credit cards powered by Visa. The companies plan to start launching the credit cards from next month.