S Cover Story STABLE, ROBUST SERVICES

We will provide debit /ATM card along with the welcome kit. In the existing scheme of things, the bank had to dispatch the PIN by courier/post to activate this card. Now, we propose to send the PIN over SBI Quick app. The customer would be required to download the app and send a missed call or SMS and in response we will despatch a one­time PIN to his mobile, with which he can activate the card. The delay is eliminated, the use of paper is eliminated and the whole process of despatching the PIN through snailmail is eliminated. In the past, it would take at least one week for a debit card or ATM card to get activated, but with green banking, it can be done the moment a person becomes a customer of the bank& receives Debit/ATM card,” says he.

VIRTUALIZATION, CLOUD

Bhasin says the bank is planning to invest heavily on virtualization technologies for desktop client and server side. For better management of applications at branches and optimizing the bandwidth utilization by rich client applications, desktop virtualization technologies are being explored.The bank’s server side virtualization-based private cloud is called ‘Meghdoot’. The bank is leveraging cloud technologies for variety of financial applications ranging from non-critical system for business support services to loan origination systems, front office application of kiosk banking, which is used by 60,000 Customer Service Points (CSP), as well as SBI flagship wallet – Buddy. The bank is also exploring ways to leverage elasticity of public clouds for

test environments of various financial applications, communication solutions, CRM and other IT for IT support systems.

STABLE, ROBUST SERVICES

The bank has over the years built its entire technology infrastructure highly stable and robust. It has recently set up a hotsite for Core Banking System (CBS) to bring down the recovery time objective (RTO) to less than an hour, in the event of any CBS outage at the primary site. “As you know the implementation of BaNCS in the bank and the associate banks constitutes the largest centralized core system implementaion ever undertaken in the world. Today, there is network latency between the primary site and the DR sites for data replication. We have been able to reduce the recovery point objective (RPO) to near zero. There is virtually no data loss. Hot site is almost realtime replication of the CBS data. The network is so efficient between two sites that the network latency is less than 10 milliseconds. The hot site is like our production site and there is automatic failover in case of any glitches in production site. The maximum downtime for a switchover to hot site has now been reduced to 40 minutes with no data loss from 4 hours earlier to switch to DR. The downtime in case we have to switch to the DR site is 2 hours with virtually no data loss. The RPO as I said is zero,” says Bhasin. To have a better management of data center services, stability and robustness, the bank is envisioning to consolidate co-location data centers.

DR DRILLS

The bank periodically undertakes DR drills for failsafe/redundancy checks of its CBS and channel applications and infrastructure – the mobile/internet banking, ATMs/POS and contact center. Bhasin says earlier, the ATM down time used to be around 2.5 hours in the event of switch over to DR, which has now been successfully brought down to less than an hour. “We are working on to highly available internet/mobile banking architecture, which will have minimum
or no down time for these applications. Quarterly and half-yearly DR drills are performed for individual applications and entire data center. For channels like internet banking and ATMs, even one- hour outage can be quite bothersome for the customers and the bank is making initiatives to bring down the outage time in the event of switchover to DR and to minimize the impact,” says Bhasin.

“Mind you, we have some 2.5 crore internet banking customers and some 5 lakh log-ins are made in one hour on an average. The SBI internet banking site can well be described as Google of India in terms of number of log-ins. In these circumstances, it is imperative that we have a good response time too in order not to inconvenience the customers. We have been able to bring this down internet banking response time of transactions from an earlier 10-12 seconds to 5-7 seconds,” he elaborates.

Bhasin says in order to make the ATM channel efficient and productive, the bank is making investments in a domain name server (DNS) system. “With this, we hope to have complete control of the channel. We are able to remotely monitor the ATM availability status, set alerts, review transaction history and mitigate risks. The system becomes extremely complex when you have to manage 55,000 ATMs across the country with some 2000-3000 more planned to be added annually. It is our aim to have nil downtime for channel applications” says Bhasin.

VISION

Bank’s technology vision is to serve digital India with innovative digital services

P2P FUND TRANSFER

 

The bank has digitized services for customers to facilitate P2P fund transfer, which ensures fund transfer through a very simple yet secured process. State Bank mCASH is a simple and quick way to claim funds sent by State Bank of India customers through internet banking or State Bank Anywhere mobile application based on just mobile number or email id.

The bank has also entered the mobile wallet space with SBI Buddy. “The wallet is available to our customers as well as those who are not. It can be used to send money to new and registered customers, book movie tickets, flights, hotels as well as do shopping. It has features like reminders to settle dues, recharge and pay bills instantly. It is available in 13 languages. At present, we have 2 lakh customer base for the wallet and our target is to touch one million shortly. We intend to position ourselves in the market place as an integrator and hope to tie up with e-commerce firms so that we can be an effective channel for bill payments,” says Bhasin.

Another wallet initiative in this direction is the tie-up envisaged with BSNL to launch a mobile wallet, which will allow customers to withdraw money through State Bank ATMs.

INTERNET BANKING

One significant aspect of the digital endeavours of the bank is that it has strengthened its internet banking. “OnlineSBI is our internet banking portal,” says Bhasin, adding, “which provides anywhere, anytime, online access to accounts for our retail and corporate customers. The application is developed using the latest cutting edge technology and best security frameworks and tools.”

CORPORATE BANKING ON MOBILE

For corporate banking, the bank provides three transaction banking products – Saral

Shiv Kumar Bhasin outlines the various digital initiatives of the bank, which will propel it into the nextgen

for single users, Vyapaar for multiple users with transaction limit upto =t50 lakh per transaction and Vistaar for multiple users with transaction limit upto ?500 crore per transaction. In addition, there are two enquiry products – Khata for single users and Khata Plus for multiple users for large corporates. These products offer the corporate customers the privilege oftransacting anywhere anytime and using any device.

“This has indeed resulted in a lot of advantages and conveniences to corporate customers in managing their finances and delegating authority to concerned officers without geographical constraints using desktop based Corporate Internet Banking,” says Bhasin.

The bank is now launching corporate mobile banking with Saral, Vypaar and Vistaar as smartphone applications. This is one of the key digital transformations to migrate customers to mobile channel.

SECURITY IS SUPREME

While undertaking the digitization efforts, the bank is not overlooking the security aspects. It proposes to launch applications to make internet banking not only secure but convenient and simple to transact. One of the irksome factors in internet banking today, according to Bhasin, is the OTP – as part of the two-factor authentication procedure mandatorily required. “There can be many misses here – there can be a telecom network delay/failures in sending the OTP to the customer. This complication further aggravates for smartphone customers who carry out netbanking on mobile phone, which impacts the success of the internet-based transaction. We are intending to provide to our customers the capability to fetch the OTP in realtime using smartphone OTP app. There will be a security check based on the transaction details and once through, the OTP will be available on the phone via internet. Alternatively, we can also provide security algorithm based soft token app where the OTP would be generated by customer on his mobile. This means there is no dependency on telecom networks or internet connection on phone,” he explains.

There could be communication problems as a result of which an OTP cannot be either sent or fetched – example is states like Jammu and Kashmir as well as some border areas. “This Smartphone application based soft token can be used to generate the OTP rather than waiting for SMS based OTP. A customer would have the choice to use the appropriate security mechanism. It will ensure success of internet banking transaction and availability anytime, anywhere,” says Bhasin.

GREEN BANKING

The bank has launched registration and password reset for internet banking as self services. A customer could subscribe to internet banking from the comfort of his home/office, which makes the internet banking true anytime, anywhere banking services. Similarly, if a customer forgets his password, he/she could reset it using self service anytime/anywhere. This transforms the business process where paper-based onetime user-id and password for internet banking credentials were provided to the customers from branches. The customer does not need to visit the branch for resetting his password.

Another application is what Bhasin describes as digital green PIN.

State Bank of India is a behemoth

So, any internal changes in the bank too would have enormous implications. For example, the digitization effort in the bank. CTO of the bank Shiv Kumar Bhasin outlines the effort:

 

T

here is a massive digital transformation that is happening in State Bank of India, chiefly to be in concert with the Digital India initiative, which the government is driving. An array of products and services will in the near future make the bank a pioneer in digital transactions and mobile device- enabled banking.

“In this transformation, our thrust is on three core areas – Mobility, Self-service and Ensuring availability and robustness of services. We believe mobile is going to be at the center of the transformation and this will help us strengthen our proposition,” says Shiv Kumar Bhasin, CTO, of the bank, who has been tasked with hastening this transformation.

MOBILITY

“Being a public sector bank has in no way impacted our efforts to take up digitization in a big way,” says Bhasin. “I can quote two major initiatives in the mobility
applications realm – State Bank Anywhere and State Bank Freedom. State Bank Anywhere is our retail internet banking application offered on mobile. A customer can do a whole lot of financial transactions – balance enquiry, funds transfer, credit card payments, RTGS funds transfer, bill payments, mCash (mobile to mobile funds transfer), instant term deposits, mobile top-up etc, while they can also do non- financial transactions like m-Passbook, ATM cum debit card hot listing and cheque book request. This service is available on SmartPhones.

“Similarly, State Bank Freedom is the branch on your mobile – you can make balance enquiries, do remittances and make bill payments, mobile top-ups, DTH recharge etc. The service is available on feature phones supporting multi-protocol application clients eg Java application, client app with encrypted SMS, SMS banking client and USSD Client.”

Bhasin says these two apps have
been quite successful and have earned the bank quite a bit of appreciation from its customers.

Another aspect that has indeed helped the bank in improving its customer service is SMS Banking and Missed Call Banking. SBI Quick – Missed Call Banking is a service which involves banking by giving a missed call or sending an SMS with pre-defined keywords to a customer’s registered mobile number. Once SBI Quick is downloaded, the customer need not have to remember the various keywords and destination mobile numbers.

“SBI Quick has been appreciated more by our rural customers than those in urban areas mainly because SMS/Missed Call for these customers is a sure shot way of making sure that a transaction has indeed taken place. Besides, through SMS Banking customers can get services such as enquiry of balance in the account, mini statement, mobile to mobile money transfer through IMPS, mobile top-up and DTH top-up/

recharge. Once installed, an internet connection is not needed to use the app as the communication would happen over SMS or Missed Call,” adds Bhasin.