State Bank of India to increase use of alternate channels for transactions to 85%

State Bank of India, the country's largest lender, is targeting to increase the total number of transactions from alternate delivery channels such as the mobile, internet and cards to 85 per cent from 65 per cent at present, in the next two years, chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya said in Mumbai.

The SBI system logs almost 370 million transactions each month and to improve the usage of technology, the bank yesterday opened 385 tech learning centres across its regional offices to train customers in using the systems. Each centre of the kind would be equipped with all the gadgets currently in use and about 20,000 customers could benefit from such centres each month.

According to Bhattacharya, technology was a great enabler for everybody. Even an 80-year old was today comfortable with the mobile phone so there was no reason why they would not be so with banking technology, she added.

The lender opens about 1.7 lakh accounts every day and it wants to enhance security and ease use of banking transactions.

Most banks in India have been increasing the use of technology and also conforming with RBI's aim to cut the use of cash and increase use of cards, mobile and internet to carry the majority of transactions, The New Indian Express reported. It has been noted that Rs10 currency note costs the RBI more than Rs10 in printing and conserving.

''We will have sessions from 4-6 pm on the third Friday of every month across 14 circles and try to do it at those branches with all the technology, including pass book printer, ATM machine, POS machine and give practical demonstrations to the customers,'' Bhattacharya said.

Bhattacharya said there was a need to hike FII limit in government securities (G-Secs) from the current limit of $30 million in response to a question.

She said she was sure the central bank was looking at hiking it but the RBI also looked at macro indicators before changing it.

As regards the impact of volatility on unhedged forex exposure, the SBI chief said, at this time there was ''no need to press the panic button''.

She said the bank always asked its clients to hedge but none hedged completely. Hopefully all the bank's clients had sensibly hedged with whatever were the immediate requirements, she added.