Archives || Search || About Us || Advertise || Feedback || Subscribe-
Issue of August 2005 

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

 Home > View from Top
 Print Friendly Page ||  Email this story

Expanding Dena Bank’s reach with IT

M V Nair, Chairman & Managing Director, Dena Bank, talks about how he has adopted a two-pronged IT strategy to expand their nation-wide reach. by Anil Patrick R

Public sector banks are still not perceived to be as technologically advanced as private sector banks. Is this perception accurate?

When private banks got the permission to operate during the mid-1990s, they came equipped with complete IT capabilities and centralised operations. These banks specialised in technology that was current at the time. Thus, they picked up the best of clients within a short span of three to four years.

In the meantime, public sector banks lost money due to their slow adoption of IT. It was only four to five years later that public sector banks started responding to the competition. However, the good thing is that these banks closed the gap in the next four to five years. Today, many public sector banks are at par with the competition.

Is IT significant for Dena Bank?

A look at national demographics reveals that 54 percent of the Indian population is below 25 and IT-savvy. They are more comfortable with the use of Internet and ATMs. If Dena Bank has to get business from this segment, we have to orient ourselves in the required manner.

The importance of IT is related to the business reality. By international IT adoption standards, we as a bank have not kept pace with the competition. However, after analysing our needs, we started our efforts to keep pace with the technology that’s needed. The objective has been to help Dena Bank provide value-added products which can be made possible with the use of technology.

Where did your technology initiatives begin?

Dena Bank was the first Indian bank to get the benefit of a World Bank line of credit six years back.

Despite having a robust network, we had not developed value-added products. We started work last year towards achieving this so that our customers can select from and use a larger number of value-added products.

Can you describe some of these products?

Firstly, we have facilities such as Internet banking, multi-city cheques, and bill payment. One of our recent products is the prepaid mobile top-up through ATMs or SMS, and the post-paid bill payment using ATMs.

It is also important to keep on expanding our reach. We have made significant progress as far as this is concerned.

How have you gone about expanding the reach of your network?

Once the optimum level of utilisation takes place, the cost of an ATM transaction is reduced to almost one-eighth that of a traditional branch transaction. If it is through the Internet, the cost is even lower

We have adopted two strategies for expanding our reach. The first is extending our own network. This includes interconnecting branches, ATMs and other offices. At present, we have 200 ATMs and about 75 centres. We plan to increase this to about 300 ATMs by year-end.

The second strategy is through tie-ups so that we are available everywhere for our customers. The first tie-up was with the Visa network. Then we joined hands with the CashTree group of banks. Next was our alliance with Corporation Bank for using its ATMs. We have also tied up with Euronet for using their backbone, which adds 4,000 ATMs to our network. Thus, we are providing our customers access to over 14,000 ATMs.

The advantage is that if our customer uses Dena Bank’s ATM, he doesn’t have to pay anything. Each town has at least one ATM. In case he is using another ATM, there is a marginal price to be paid, but the important thing is that the reach is there.

What is the next step?

700 branches are connected to our network, Denanet, through leased lines.
The only thing that we have to do is connect them using a core banking system so that the bank’s data is centralised

At present, 700 branches are connected to our network—which we call Denanet—through leased lines. There is strong networking available, and all the branches are computerised. The only thing that we have to do is connect them using a core banking system so that the bank’s data is centralised.

We have just started work on this initiative. We have advertised for a consultant and we will finalise one soon. Then we will go through the selection process. Our plan is to put the top 200 branches into the core system in the first phase. This should take about 12 months to complete, and will include activities such as tweaking the system and training people.

We plan to roll out the first batch by the end of fiscal 2005. Once the core banking solution is in place, scaling it up will be easier so the rest of the branches will be integrated faster.

Do you have any figures on how the introduction of IT for different channels has reduced the cost of operations?

I’m not at liberty to discuss the figures right now, but I can give a basic idea of how technology can reduce costs. Firstly, by shifting customers to alternate channels, staff requirements come down.

According to general studies made in the industry, once the optimum level of utilisation takes place, the cost of an ATM transaction is reduced to almost one-eighth that of a traditional branch transaction. If it is through the Internet, the cost is even lower. By and large, technology has reduced costs substantially. In fact, the future will be through mobile banking and it will further trim costs.

What will happen is that investment in marketing will go up. This is not something that public sector banks have done much of. So we move from branch-level investments to market-level spending.

When developing a banking product, technology has to be re-aligned. Does technology help bring a product to market in a shorter time?

There are two aspects to this. The first is innovation. If a product is innovative, it will take time to reach the market. However, if the bank is a follower, time to market is quicker since copying a product is easier and faster.

Copying a competitor’s product is easy. The real game is the ability to sell, and this is something that most banks are unable to do. Although the product can be copied, the ability to sell to the customer is more crucial. Many public sector banks are unable to do this.

How can technology help when marketing a product?

This is where technology and business strategy should go together. If that doesn’t happen, the technology team will just develop without any useful result. The final success lies in bringing these two together.

What has been your experience in bringing technology and business teams together?

Right now our main challenge is to bring the business, technology and HR groups together to operate in a co-ordinated effort. I feel this is the biggest challenge for any CEO. He should see to it that this integrated effort takes place and that the customer benefits.

Are there any difficulties that you face while doing this?

It is not difficult, but it certainly is a challenge. However, this is what we are supposed to do. It is about gearing up the organisation in the way you think it should be, and that is the best challenge to have.

- <Back to Top>-  
Untitled Document
Indian Express - Business Publications Division

Copyright 2001: Indian Express Newspapers (Mumbai) Limited (Mumbai, India). All rights reserved throughout the world. This entire site is compiled in Mumbai by the Business Publications Division (BPD) of the Indian Express Newspapers (Mumbai) Limited. Site managed by BPD.