These branches offer a near human-less banking experience. Almost every banking transaction, including opening an account, can be performed with virtually no human intervention. At the Citibank branch outlet, for instance, a machine performs the role that a teller typically does in a bank — counts the cash, deposits and dispenses it. “There is no need for manual reconciliation at the end of the day,” says Anand Selvakesari, consumer banking head, ASEAN & India, Citibank.
At SBI, a person who walks into the branch can open a zero balance account in 15 minutes. A machine allows any of the approved KYC documents to be scanned, the signature to be captured on the machine using a stylus, and biometric verification to done with a finger scan to authenticate the person’s ID with the Aadhaar database. A machine next to it can print your debit card instantly. The instant service and gratification is paying off in terms of winning new customer accounts. When Sorab Patel (name changed) walked into the Citibank branch at Palladium, he was looking to avail of the 20% off offer for Citibank cardholders on high-end Samsung phones at a store in the mall. He was able to get the card the same day at the branch, which had an instant card printing and embossing machine, and then buy the phone. He now holds a current account with the bank, says Vineeta Suri, the branch manager. These branches are also open on holidays and follow the timings of the mall.
Tech savvy Indians
Experience in the three months since the SBI branch opened show consumers are taking to technology. SBI plans to open more such outlets in major cities and scaled down versions in smaller cities. “A lot of changes have happened in the online and mobile world including in retail banking, but nothing much had happened in the physical world,” says Karthik Kaushik, country business manager, Citibank India.
More banks are getting on board and an SBI official who requested anonymity because he was not a spokesperson said a few had even approached Accenture, the vendor it had partnered with for the exercise, with requests to set up similar stores. Accenture is reported to have flown in several global experts to help design the interiors of the SBI branch store and even design costumes for the branch staff — all 35 or younger. The branches themselves are modelled on Apple stores and designs were shortlisted based on feedback from its own Gen Y employees.