The story began in 2000. With its growth curve heading northward, State Bank of India (SBI), the country's largest bank with the largest branch network, realized the need for a core banking solution. An expression of interest was invited in July 2000, and the actual implementation was started in August 2003 when the first branch of the bank was put on TCS' BαNCS core banking solution.
The planning stage lasted three years, while the BαNCS implementation took another five years (till July 2008) to complete. "The core banking solution rollout project enabled SBI to embark on a journey of transformation by implementing a state-of-the art technology foundation within a robust framework," says Krishna Kumar, the deputy managing director of IT for SBI.
The entire project of implementing the core banking solution was handled by TCS as the systems integrator, while other major technology partners in the project were HP, Datacraft, Cisco and Microsoft. The core banking solution implemented at SBI and its associate banks currently execute an average of 42 million transactions per day with a peak of 1,900 transactions per second through a massive network of about 17,700 branches and over 20,000 ATMs servicing nearly 243 million customers.
Process of implementation
The first step toward centralization was building a strong, country-wide network and integrating all individual LANs on a common platform. "The construction of the data center and disaster recovery site were major IT infrastructure projects which contributed to the successful implementation of our core banking solution," Kumar notes.
The implementation of SBI's core banking solution was a huge task for the IT team. It was critical for all stakeholders to understand the size and complexity of the core banking solution project in order for it to be successful. The data related to customers and their transactions was distributed across all the branches which needed to be migrated to the centralized database. In addition to this, there were specialized branches having their own set of requirements due to the specialized nature of their businesses. Also, there were functionalities which were not readily available in BαNCS—the core banking solution—so these had to be developed. Moreover, the integration required was not just of the technical systems but also of various business systems and processes across the bank.
SBI and its (then) seven associate banks needed to be on the same technology platform, which meant moving them from their existing platforms to a new one. This would require training, change in hardware and software, data cleansing and migration. A decision was taken by SBI that all the banks would be on the same version of the core banking solution. This meant a change in the operating procedures and business processes at some of the banks.
Further, SBI had more than 2,00,000 employees, and many of them had little familiarity with Web-based technology before the core banking solution's implementation. "SBI and TCS had to ensure that the bank employees were well-acquainted with the use of the solution," recalls Kumar. "This was achieved by providing training, spreading awareness through various media, and setting up help desk support to resolve issues that would occur during the rollout." Indeed, at one point of time, SBI had 58 training centers.
Beyond core banking solutions
SBI's technology deployment does not stop with the core banking solution's rollout. As the market grows increasingly competitive, the dependence on technology also increases. "We are now in the process of scaling up our ATM network," Kumar discloses. "It is proposed to grow our network to more than 30,000 ATMs during 2010. Apart from this, mobile money transfer and mobile wallet are the two new initiatives that we plan to undertake through mobile banking this year."