FNS completes first phase of State Bank of India project

Source: Financial Network Services

Australian specialist banking software and services company, Financial Network Services (FNS) and its Indian partner, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), have successfully completed the first phase of one of the largest and most ambitious IT projects ever undertaken by a bank anywhere in the world.

The project involves the implementation of a new core banking solution at the State Bank of India (SBI) - the world's largest bank in terms of the size of its branch network and infrastructure.

SBI has now gone live with its new BANCSR core banking solution in approximately 250 key branches SBI chairman, Mr A. K. Purwar, announced at a press conference in Mumbai today (Wednesday).

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Purwar, said: "The banking solution implemented for SBI is central to the Bank's IT and business strategy. The solution has now attained critical mass and is set to encompass all branches rapidly. In the present scenario, where size and consolidation in the banking sector are being discussed, the common technology platform for the State Bank Group provides a common face to both employees and customers of the bank.

"The SBI Group has always been at the forefront of customer service and this technology solution from TCS will go a long way in enhancing delivery of superior products and services to our customers. This coupled with the other business initiatives within the group, will create a 'New SBI'."

Mr. R. N. Ramanathan, DMD (IT), said the conversion to BANCS ensured SBI could move ahead rapidly with the latest 21st Century technology to streamline its operations and improve customer service and reach.

The entire project is of enormous proportions, involving some 9000 local branches and a parallel project by TCS to equip another 5000 branches of subsidiary banks with the BANCS solution.

FNS managing director, Tony Ward, said given the scope of the bank's functional requirements, the implementation has been an astounding accomplishment.

A mixture of Personal Banking and Commercial Branches and the bank's Foreign Department have now been converted to the new solution, marking another major milestone in reaching a large proportion of SBI's customers. BANCS will also be implemented in a range of speciality branches servicing agricultural, industrial, overseas and non residential Indian customers.

Mr Ward said the decision by SBI to implement the BANCS core banking solution from FNS was the culmination of a two year investigation by the bank which was the most rigorous and detailed he had ever experienced.

"SBI is the largest bank in the world by number of branches and is the banker for government, catering for the full range of government departments and as well as taking deposits and providing loans to the government sector."

Being a public sector bank, SBI is also responsible for discharging Government policy such as loans to special industry sectors and also disadvantaged groups in the community. This includes housing loans and banking services to some 125 million accounts - each with links to collateral and other associated persons - all of which are managed by BANCS' customer relationship management feature.

Mr Ward said that at the end of the comprehensive evaluation process involving literally dozens of vendors, BANCS was the only solution which could meet all of SBI's exacting requirements.

"Most of the competitors were ruled out early because of functional or technical shortcomings and others on their past history of problem implementations. The major shortcomings of many solutions being that they lacked flexibility in terms of functions and were not designed for such large volumes."

In addition to the physical enormity of the project, Ward said the deployment required customisation by TCS and FNS to match SBI's internal processes and Indian regulatory requirements. This means that BANCS provides the best of both worlds: a sophisticated international banking system customised to meet the requirements of Indian Banking.

TCS Team leader, Mr. R. Krishnan, said the combination of FNS's superior BANCS technology and the experience of the TCS implementation team ensured the mammoth project went according to plan and met its objectives.

"This project was particularly challenging as it required a number of technical changes to create specialised products, including a customised user interface, international payments facilities and non-resident accounts facility, inward and outward clearing facilities customised for India and a two-step Inland Remittances system to suit branch procedures of Indian nationalised banks."

Customised interfaces to the BANCS core banking system included ATM, Internet Banking and SBI's internal reconciliation and payments systems.

Mr Ward concluded that the successful go live within the anticipated timeframe would have been a good achievement in normal circumstances, but a major triumph given the amount of customisation and technical changes needed to fulfil SBI's highly specialised requirements.

He predicted both FNS and TCS would receive more interest from other financial institutions in India and around the world as a result of the accomplishments of the FNS/TCS team on the landmark project.

These predictions have already come to fruition with FNS and TCS recently winning another international tender to implement the BANCSR solution.

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