UTI Bank''s retail plans

UTI Bank is consolidating its operations and is poised to offer a range of retail services on the strength of its technology investments. Announcing the bank''s plans, chairman and managing director Supriya Gupta said the bank has put in place a Base24 transaction switch infrastructure that will provide links to the CIRRUS, the debit card network of MasterCard and Swadhan, the ATM network of Indian banks operated by the Indian Banks Association.

This switch, implemented by Financial Software Systems (P) Ltd, will connect all UTI Bank branches and ATMs on a VSAT network to establish an online debit infrastructure. Mr Gupta said this would be the first time that a bank with a distributed branch network is being connected to both MasterCard and Swadhan networks.

UTI Bank has a branch network (with ATMs) of 38 sites. Ten more sites are to be added to this network by December 1999, while 10 more offsite ATMs will be commissioned to cater to a customer base of over 1,70,000 and over 70,000 ATM cards. Mr Gupta said the bank''s investment in technology has paid off handsomely. The bank has already invested about Rs.45 crore in technology, and plans to invest a further Rs.20 crore over the next two years.

Outlining the future technology plans of the bank, V K Ramani, the bank''s general manager - IT, said the bank will exploit the full potential of this switch in the direction of internet banking and e-commerce gateways.

The bank will have tie-ups with MasterCard, American Express and VISA to offer "point of sale" debit and credit card facilities. Initially, it is starting with a co-branded credit card with MasterCard, which will be introduced two weeks from now. The debit card network will be through its testing phase by September 1999, and available for launch thereafter. The bank is aiming to bring in more fee-based revenues through transaction processing with these tie-ups and investments in transaction switches.

UTI Bank will also integrate the demat services it is providing with the back-end accounting system through the transaction switches to offer loans against demat shares through new channels. In future, the bank is also planning to offer the UTI group''s retail products on the bank''s channels like ATMs, POS terminals etc, M.M. Agrawal, general manager-merchant banking, said.

Nagaraj Mylandla, managing director of Financial Software Systems, said the system helps to integrate the front end and online transaction processing system with a distributed and diverse database and to connect to diverse networks using a standard protocol.