For Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India’s largest IT services provider, that works with close to 100 banks in India, including the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and State Bank of India (SBI), the last 20 days has meant working round the clock to make the tech process smooth to manage the impact of demonetisation.
The IT firm came up with multiple innovative solutions to make life of banking consumers easy, after brainstorming sessions with banks were held, post the demonetisation announcement.
Queue-buster, for instance can be an effective solution. Although it is in it’s pilot stage in some banks, queue-buster will bring much relief to the people standing for hours in queues to withdraw cash.
“The idea is to have pre-configured teller booths. So, instead of one or two long queues, there will be five to six counters that will be disbursing set limit of cash. This could be Rs 1,000, Rs 2,000, Rs 5,000, Rs 20,000 and so on. It is easy to manage cash outflow. We have piloted it in a few branches of a bank,” said Ravi Vishwanathan, president, growth market business at TCS.
The other idea that came out during a similar brainstorming session was handhelds, which is similar to check-ins done via handhelds at airports. “All the documentation needs are done at the entry itself and you just have to go and get your cash. This should get rolled out soon,” said Vishwanathan, without divulging the name of the bank.
While TCS CEO N Chandrasekaran is a board member of RBI, he did little in terms of preparedness because he also knew about demonetisation only when Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on November 8.
Vishwanathan, who has been fielding calls from customers on a daily basis had a crack team of 10-15 people on November 9, looking into how the company can help its baking clients.
This was also one of the few times that the company had to deploy rapid application development mode, which basically means changes in the application happen on-the-go and there is no time to send the changes for approval to the client. “This will happen across the table. We had to deploy RADM for both changes at back-end which will be the core banking system as well as the front-end that would be ATMs and micro-ATMs,” he added.
“The immediate concern was to have systems that would handle currency exchange, how do we enable bank ATMs, how do we prepare the back-end to manage the cash deposits, as well as the withdrawals made so that the systems are not modified frequently. And working with Bank Mitra’s or banking correspondent on how their machines manage the load,” said Vishwanathan.
One important change that the teams had to make was on cash withdrawals. With RBI changing the withdrawal limit a few times, banks did not have time for a code change to take place at the back-end. “We made sure that the limit change could be done with a click of a button or minimal configuration. We only had to redo it when the limit was changed for marriage withdrawals as the system needed other documents to be attached,” said Vishwanathan.
TCSers also made available a reporting system for banks that allowed details of currency transaction and cash outflows on mobile handsets. Management reports were made available on a daily and hourly basis on cash transaction analysis, high currency note exchanges, total deposits among others. In case of RBI, for which TCS manages the integrated currency exchange, the team had to monitor the currency position and provide a daily report to the governor that is also shared with the PMO.
Along with managing the software needs and application updates on a real-time basis, TCS also managed to help Bank of India to roll out over 80 additional ATMs and a handhelds were rolled out at Indian Overseas Bank.
“We were able to roll out the software changes required for the system pretty fast. Even for ATMs the software change was very smooth but the hardware recalibration took time,” he added.
Vishwanathan believes that demonetisation will throw many new opportunities for IT players in India. “Almost every bank has a mobile wallet option, add to this there is the unified payment interface (UPI). What will be important to see is how the merchant eco-system adapts to this. Their adaptability will be key as cash transaction are the highest at the retail level. As a company we have always been looking at how we can increase our exposure to the retail side of the banking business. This will be an opportunity for us,” he added.
TCS has been a key player for several large government digitisation projects, these include the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Passport, e-filing and others.