With Gen Y in mind, State Bank of India rides the digital wave


State Bank of India is riding the digital wave with futuristic banking technology products as well as activities to enhance the digital skills programme for the empowerment of rural women.

Shaking off its legacy of being behind the times, the technology-challenged bank has finally embraced the digital revolution to stop private banks from invading its playing fields and taking away a bulk of its gen next customers.

“Staying attuned to the needs of the Gen Y customer with their need for innovative technology, SBI is in the process of offering a gamut of digital services to the customer on the go,” SBI Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya said.

In one big leap, on the bank’s 61st founding day last month, Bhattacharya announced seven revolutionary products such as SBI Buddy, Mingle, State Bank Scribe, SBI Digi Voucher, SBI Video Statement, SBI Smart Watch, and the Digital Village programme.

The announcements came as a pleasant surprise. Though SBI had been strong with its back-end technology, it had not been in tune with customers belonging to the digital generation who want everything at their fingertips and are reluctant even to use an ATM kiosk.

High time we Mingle

SBI Mingle is a social media banking platform for Facebook and Twitter users. With this, the bank’s customers can access a host of banking services on their FB and Twitter accounts at their own convenience.

As Bhattacharya explains,

The bank has witnessed tremendous engagement from its customers on each of its social platforms for queries, information, advice, and complaint resolution. Being aware that the millennial customers no longer interact with their bank from a traditional channel perspective, the bank is planning to introduce more services like request for chequebook, stop cheque, mobile banking, internet banking, SMS alerts, and block ATM/debit cards on this platform soon.

With such offerings, the bank is all set to offer its millennial customers a new digital experience. Apart from balance enquiry, mini statement, and funds transfer within SBI, the bank also offers inter-bank and beneficiary management services on Facebook. On Twitter, using hashtags, customers can check their account balance and view mini statements.

My best Buddy:

SBI also launched an updated version of its Buddy Pay where customers can buy tickets online at IRCTC through SBI Buddy and make payments at partner fashion retail outlets. IRCTC, which has one-third of the payments on its platform going through SBI’s digital payment channels, hopes to take the number even further with this partnership with Buddy.

The bank has also announced a tie-up with 2,500 educational institutions and government entities for payments through the bank's Multi Option Payment System.

Bhattacharya admitted,

We might have hopped on to the wallet revolution late but we have learnt it very fast. Now, armed with the trust factor of our customers and a variety of partnerships, the bank will be offering them the ease of making payments through SBI Buddy.

Riding the payments revolution wave in the country, SBI is planning a host of means to improve customer facilities through its digital platforms and is even planning to revamp Buddy and make it usable on Java enabled non-smartphones to enable the bank to increase customers in the rural geography.

More tech to showcase

There are three more programmes being rolled out that have not been made public yet. These products are in the trial stages and once announced, they are expected to put the bank among top technology adopters in the financial sector. The announcement for the roll out of State Bank Scribe, SBI Digi Voucher, SBI Video Statement, and SBI Smart Watch will be made soon.

Cashless villages

The bank has also launched SBI Digital Village, an initiative to transform villages into cashless ecosystems. By adopting them as digital villages, the project aims at transforming selected villages into safe, healthy, and vibrant digital centres. The bank will formally launch this initiative in 21 villages and SBI plans to bring 100 villages under this initiative across the country by the end of this financial year.

In a first-of-its-kind joint corporate citizenship collaboration, SBI is partnering with Oracle India to launch the ‘D-Change’ programme.The initiative supports Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Skill India” and “Digital India” plan and furthers Oracle’s commitment to expand within the region, the bank and the company said in a joint statement.

Helping communities develop skilled economies

D-Change is being touted as India’s largest digital and joint employee volunteer programme with over 2,40,000 employees from both organisations. D-Change will support education and learning, women’s empowerment, and rural skill development in India’s villages. D-Change expects to merge SBI’s financial expertise and expansive reach with Oracle’s technology leadership to help local communities drive substantial change and develop a skilled economy.

Oracle and SBI volunteers will help enhance IT literacy among high school students, teachers, and parents from over 100 SBI-supported government schools through an initiative called ‘Digital KushaltakiAur’. The first such project will be initiated at Rotary Bangalore Vidyalaya in Bengaluru and Mandal Parishad High School, Kondapur, in Hyderabad on August 6, 2016.

Empowering women

D-Change aims to build awareness and promote financial literacy among girls and women, especially those from underprivileged sections. Volunteers will encourage girls and young women to consider careers in IT.