We are looking at expanding our reach through m-banking

VoicenData Bureau
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Founded in 1906 by a group of eminent businessmen from

Mumbai, Bank of India, after nationalization in 1969, has grown to include 3,101

branches in India spread over all states/union territories, including 141

specialized branches. While adhering to a policy of prudence and caution, the

bank has been in the forefront of introducing various innovative services and

systems. It pioneered the introduction of the Health Code System in 1982, for

evaluating/rating its credit portfolio. It also collaborated with the Bombay

Stock Exchange to establish the BOI Shareholding, which extends depository

services to the stock broking community. Bank of India was the first Indian Bank

to open a branch outside the country, and it has a sizable presence abroad. A

forerunner in ICT initiatives as well, Bank of India till date is vying to keep

up with its counterparts abroad. Explaining more about the changing face of

technology in the banking sector is PA Kalyan Sundar, GM, IT, Bank of India.



How has the delay in 3G

and WiMax auction obstructed your plans to achieve better connectivity across

your various centers in India? With the further delay, what other technology

options are you looking at?

The delay in 3G has not affected us in any way, as our communication

requirements are met by leased line connectivity; and we use VSAT and the

Internet for the rest, which is sufficient for us. 3G is required more for video

based applications, where large bandwidth is required . However, for data

processing in a bank, the current technology is good enough.

Convergence and WLAN as well as cloud computing are coming

to India in a big way. Do you plan to implement any of the new technologies in

your business model?

Yes, we plan to implement cloud computing for data security and

confidentiality, for infrastructure, or simply to put applications on a shared

platform—educational or via emails, but not for banking transactions.


Banks were only present in urban areas earlier. Forty years

ago, however, banks became nationalized and were extended to rural areas.

However, till date in 90% villages, there is no bank branch, and 50% of the

population in rural and urban areas have no bank accounts. Thus, in terms of new

technologies, we are working on financial inclusion through smart cards,

hand-held devices and other connectivity options available, be it GPRS, landline

connectivity, etc. We aim to provide services in remote areas (all PSUs are also

doing this). The advantage for rural customers is that they don't have to step

out from home and find a bank. Thus, a farmer doesn't lose the day's wages and

saves the money for commuting as well. Apart from CSR, there is a big potential

in rural areas, but the only problem is lack of access. However, we provide

facilities like core banking and financial inclusion at one's doorstep, and

mobile technology and GPRS transactions through mobile (m-banking), and

transactions through hand-held devices.

What is the current security solution you are using?

We have a virtual private network—SSL (internal connections) leased lines,

IT security, 3DES.

As the economy recovers the from the recession, what new

technology solutions are you thinking of introducing? How focused will the

investments be in terms of improving bottomlines?

As the economy recovers from the recession, some of the new technology

solutions we are looking at are core-banking, enterprise solutions,

collaborative and unified communications, educating employees through

e-learning, virtual classroom, unified/collaborated communications,

video/desktop conferencing. We are looking at improving communication for

employees and customers by means of video/Internet/email/website-all part of our

web to tech, interactive initiatives.


How big is bandwidth a constraint for you, when it comes

to connectivity and what are you doing to solve the problem?

Bank of India has been a leader in technology and believes in doing things

in a different fashion. Thus, we have 3,000 branches on a single enterprise

platform, and now we have financial inclusion which in effect means banking the

unbanked, or taking banking to remote areas. To popularize this, we are using

unified and collaborative technology in terms of knowledge portals, etc

In addition to brick and mortar branches, we offer ATM,

Internet, mobile banking and other facilities to customers, and now have five

sponsored RRBS (regional rural banks), where we are planning the implementation

of core-banking. This is in Maharashtra, Orissa, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh.

In some of these areas where there are infrastructure constraints, we connect

through VSAT or solar-powered UPS systems.

Bank of India won the Green Technology award for this in 2008

from CIO magazine. Thus, we are looking at expanding our reach through m-banking

for all transactions-big or small value transactions and m-commerce, and we are

tying up with aggregators for this.


Are you looking at vendor consolidation and planning to

renew and renegotiate contracts with your IT and network providers? How have

service level agreements (SLAs) changed over time with your vendors?

HP has been our vendor for the last ten years, while Cisco is our system

integrator, that provides core-banking solutions.

How have your IT and communication budgets changed over

the past one year?

There has been no change in the budget for IT and communications over the

past year.

What are the major challenges that you are facing as a

CIO/CTO in terms of technology/network constraints in your organization?

One of the main challenges is the huge network of banks and employees

scattered across the length and breadth of the country. We have around 40,000

employees, whom we need to train in education, chain management,

infrastructure-power, connecting in rural areas, and employee engagement.

Security is also another growing concern. We have implemented

the best solutions, but customers at times fall prey to hackers; thus, we are

trying to educate customers through informative websites, etc.

Beryl M