Bangalore, August 2004

Mobile terminals make banking easier

BANGALORE, AUG. 3. For over three months, field executives of the Krishna Bheema Samruddhi (KBS) Bank, a bank operating in Mahbubnagar of Andhra Pradesh, and Raichur, have been using handheld devices to collect instalments on advances, daily deposits for pigmy schemes and other deposits from the customers of the bank.

These 400 gm "pigmy collection terminals (PCTs)" can store information on 1,000 accounts and print receipts whenever a transaction is made.

"So no manipulation is possible," says A Prakash, Director of the Bangalore-based Processware Software Systems, which developed software that interfaces between computers in the bank and the PCTs.

Edgar Computers, another Bangalore-based company, supplied pigmy collection terminals to the bank.

When the field executives get back to their office, data from the PCTs is uploaded to a server, validated by a senior officer and the customers' accounts updated.

'Working well.'

"The system has been working well since we implemented it two months ago," he says.

Processware will implement its core banking software, Banksoft, in seven branches of the bank this year. It is the only bank which is using PCTs. Sudha Cooperative Bank in Bangalore is using the PCTs on a trial basis now. The bank is likely to use them on a regular basis soon, Mr. Prakash says.

Most Banksoft implementations that cost up to Rs. 5 lakhs a branch are on Microsoft Windows operating system. But the solution was operating system independent, he says. "We can set up Banksoft on Linux operating system if the customer wants it," he adds.

Awaiting clearance

The bank is awaiting clearance from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to buy automated teller machines (ATM) from NCR, a New York-based ATM-maker. NCR's EasyPoint 57i 'Asan' ATMs launched in Mumbai in December last have found favour with cooperative banks. In June, the Pune-based Cosmos Cooperative Bank Ltd. bought 50 such ATMs.

World-class features

A Banker's Technology Award winner this year, Asan is an India specific ATM with low total cost of ownership, but with world-class features, says Deepak Chandnani, NCR India's managing director. It can be hooked on to a GPRS system using CDMA technology, he adds. Cosmos, with a network of some 41 branches, uses Finacle core banking software of Infosys.

ATM experiment

Suco Bank, another cooperative bank operating in Raichur, has tried an ATM experiment with the earlier version of Simputer, a palmtop built by the Bangalore-based startup PicoPeta.

"We have tried a system where customers will get both the convenience of an ATM and the personal touch of interacting with another person," Sudarshan, spokesperson for the bank, told The Hindu.

While the KBS bank is using PCTs for collecting deposits, Suco has done the reverse with customers going to a designated

"Simputer ATM" where a bank employee enters the data into the Simputer after handing out cash. "It did not catch on," Mr. Sudarshan says.

Undeterred by this, Suco has gone ahead with its core banking software plans. It now offers Internet and mobile banking, he says.

To popularise these facilities, Suco has selected a brand ambassador, he adds.

By Harichandan A A