Yazdi Tantra – The New Captain At The Helm Of Zoroastrian Bank

Earlier this year, in April 2021, the reigns of our community’s only Bank – The Zoroastrian Co-operative Bank Ltd (ZCBL) – were placed into the able hands of leading tech-guru and dynamic business entrepreneur – Yazdi Tantra. A Chartered Accountant by training, Computer Consultant by Profession, Entrepreneur Developer by hobby, Trainer in his leisure time, and now ZCBL Chairperson, Yazdi Tantra will lead the bank to greater heights of tech-enhanced banking, innovative products and better services. A popular and much-respected personality of our national and global community, Yazdi Tantra shares with Parsi Times his plans for ZCBL and other interesting facts about the multi-faceted roles he dons…

“I was born in a typical middle-class family – very simple parents and one sister who set the bar high with her achievements. Despite my interest and ability, I could not pursue my higher education at IIT owing to a lack of funds. So, I went in for B.Com as that was known to help  secure a bank job easily! Later, I was coaxed to go in for Chartered Accountancy. I rounded it off with a Masters in Financial Management (MFM) from Bajaj,” shares Yazdi Tantra. He went on to work in large companies for a decade before he was bitten by the Parsi entrepreneurial bug which had him embark on to numerous Computer and technology related avenues including Training, Hardware Sales & Service, Software, Websites, Payment Gateways and many more.

Speaking about his journey with ZCBL, Yazdi shares, “I was invited to join the Board of Zoroastrian Bank by the then Chairman in late 2005. I rose to  being elected as the Vice Chairman in 2011 and ten years later, in March 2021, I was elected as the Chairman by the existing Board.”

“Zoroastrian Bank is a 94-year-old institution. Starting as a Co-operative Credit Society, we received our Banking License as an Urban State Co-operative Bank in1994 and grew into becoming a Multi-State Urban Co-operative Bank in 2013. We are a Scheduled Bank running under the strict supervision of the Reserve Bank of India and the Central Registrar of Co-operative Societies,” informs Yazdi. “Our by-line states that we are a “Bank that is Big on Tradition and Trust”. Our depositors have placed trust in our Bank unconditionally – over good times and bad. ZCBL continues its time-tested policy of carefully selecting its advances with good quality assets. Besides offering all the retail loan products to individuals, the Bank is very aggressive on Corporate Lending and has reputed Corporate clients in diverse fields of manufacturing, shipping, services, etc.” he adds.

Has the pandemic had a very adverse impact on ZCBL? “Currently, owing to various factors as we are all well aware of, we are going through challenging times. Despite that, we have maintained a healthy Capital Adequacy ratio of more than two and a half times the minimum requirement as mandated by the RBI. We also continue with healthy reserves, owing to prudent and conservative accounting policies, as expected of a traditional Zoroastrian organization!” he answers.

When asked about the plans for ZCBL, looking ahead, Yazdi shares, “The pandemic has accelerated our transformation to use technology in our day-to-day lives. Studies have found that more than 60% of the population, over the age of 60 years, has been using technology for routine banking transactions. Thus, Banks, as we know them in their brick-and-mortar avatars, will probably cease to exist over the next decade or so. Most transactions will be digital. Therefore, the only way forward is to encourage, embrace and implement technology in diverse ways.

Our immediate goal is to install and implement world class technology from Infosys for our daily Banking transactions. We already have Internet Banking facility for our individual clients. Our Debit Cards, in collaboration with Rupay, can be used at thousands of establishments nationwide, as also online for Bill payments, Travel Bookings, Online Stores, etc.

We will also be launching Corporate Internet Banking for all our clients shortly. Our Mobile Banking App is currently in its testing stage and will be launched simultaneously. Very soon, we should be able to open Bank Accounts online and provide our customers a seamless banking experience, comparable to the best in the industry today.”

But there’s way more to the man who takes great pride in his two accomplished children and dotes over his three grand-kids! When we ask him about his other pursuits and interests, we come face to face with a long list of his accomplishments and efforts encouraging entrepreneurship, community service, education, training and writing professional columns in publications including Parsi Times!!

Yazdi Tantra has been promoting and nurturing a sense of entrepreneurship through the World Zarathushti Chamber of Commerce (WZCC) for the last twenty years, with the last five years as its Global Vice President. “It’s been a very enriching experience for me. Our youngsters are second to none and come up with such vivid ideas in diverse areas, targeting economic prosperity in the long term. I cherish being a part of the transformation of WZCC into an engine of growth for Economic, Social and Intellectual Entrepreneurship. Our new initiatives include planting seeds of entrepreneurship in young (8-16) minds through Global Youngpreneurs and encouraging the spirit of Social Entrepreneurship to transform the world at large, and our community in particular,” he says.

One of Yazdi’s longest entrepreneurial stints comprises running a medium-sized tech organisation – ON-LYNE – for over thirty years now, which is into developing websites, portals, payment gateways, sales and service of computer hardware.

He has also been active in promoting several Zoroastrian Websites, in the firm belief that this modern medium, will help unite our far-flung community across the globe. These include www.zoroastrians.net, www.theparsidirectory.com and the Daily Uthamna Service for the Global Community (via WhatsApp and Telegram).

Yazdi is also actively involved with the Patuck Education Trust – sharing new initiatives, inculcating the need for green technology, encouraging competitive mindset and vocational skills for underprivileged children. He writes a regular column on Android apps for efficiency at the workplace for publications including MoneyLife, Bombay Chartered Accountants Journal, PASCHEEM (a journal published by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) – Western Region), and of course, Parsi Times!

Since the Covid-19 Pandemic and subsequent lockdown, Yazdi has been running a series of very useful webinars, making technology simple, smart and magical for the lay user. These have been  appreciated and well attended by people from across the world. The archives are available on his YouTube channel at https://bit.ly/yazdiyoutube.

But coming back to his recently acquired position as Chairman of ZCBL, what new services could we expect from the bank and how will these be achieved? “I believe in technology with a minimum carbon footprint. All our technological progress will be tempered by this underlying belief. A bouquet of services including Insurance, Mutual Funds and other Investments and allied financial services, as may be opened up by the RBI, will be part of our offerings.

We will make all this possible by upskilling our honest and dedicated staff to embrace the upcoming challenges, infusing new blood, new skills and new ways of serving full-scale financial services to our growing list of aspiring, new-age, next-gen clientele and wowing them with the superlative experience of dealing with a 94-year old!!

As you can see, People and Technology are the pillars on which we must build – one cannot survive without the other. It is a long and uphill task, but with faith, dedication, perseverance and the support of all our stakeholders – our Members, our Directors, our Staff, our Clients and our well-wishers, we are looking ahead to reach our centenary as a re-invented, rejuvenated and vibrant organization!” says Yazdi, brimming with positivity.

We wish the tech-genius and banking visionary a fulfilling and successful tenure as Chairman of ZCBL. Here’s looking forward to the new captain steering Aapri Bank – ZCBL, into riding the wave, and matching shoulder to shoulder with the tech-offerings and services of other banks, under his dynamic leadership.

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