SBI’s INTOUCH concept blazes digital branch trail

The digitalisation of the humble bank branch is the one of the hottest topics in global retail banking right now.

The digitalisation of the humble bank branch is the one of the hottest topics in global retail banking right now, writes Douglas Blakey.

In as few words as I can: retail banks need to aim to transform themselves into tech firms holding a banking licence instead of being financial institutions with an IT capability.

That goal is being recognised in different regions at varying speeds.

India is the latest market to witness prudent investment in the digital bank branch.

State Bank of India (SBI) has kicked off an ambitious programme of rolling out the digital bank branch, arguably a tad more impressive than certain UK banks who kid themselves that arming branch staff with iPads and installing more ATMs fits the need of digitising the branch.

SBI’s ‘INTOUCH’ branches offer among other things instant issuance of personalised debit cards. As I may have moaned in scribbles elsewhere, this is not exactly cutting edge technology these days but remains beyond the capability or so-called customer centricity ethos of the majority of UK banks, but I digress.

The INTOUCH branches also offer instant loan approvals for car and home loans, remote expert advisors available via video links as well as interactive walls and table displays.

I gather from Michael Allen, allen international CEO, that the design and implementation of the first six INTOUCH digital branches took only three months – so a fairly nifty bit of work.

SBI is the first retail bank on the sub-continent to offer state-of-the-art digital branches and sets an impressive standard for others to follow.