ICICI Bank introduces software robotics

The project, which is in a pilot phase and is yet to be rolled out, will be tested in one of its branches in the coming weeks.

MUMBAI: The country's leading private sector lender ICICI Bank has forayed into ' software robotics' – a first by any Indian bank. Over 200 software robots are now performing over 10 lakh transactions per day for the bank which comprises 10% of its total transactions. The bank will engage 500 software robots by the end of the year which will help it to automate 20% of its total transactions.

ICICI's announcement comes a fortnight after HDFC Bank's decision to engage physical robots at its branches. The project, which is in a pilot phase and is yet to be rolled out, will be tested in one of its branches in the coming weeks.

For ICICI Bank, these 'software robots' have been deployed across functions in retail banking, agri-business, treasury, trade and forex. The bank is expecting a significant improvement in its costto-income ratio once the initiative is rolled out in full.

"Use of technology helps us to keep our cost of operations down," Chanda Kochhar, MD, ICICI Bank said. "Even if we look at our cost to income ratios, we brought it down from around 40% four years ago to 35% now. The way our bank has used technology is one of the reasons why we have one of the most efficient cost-to-income ratios in the country."

Kochhar also dismissed apprehensions about employee retrenchment due to use of robots in their banking functions. "I don't think there will be any lay-offs," she said. "Every year we hire a few thousand people and that will still continue. So there is no question of any layoff because of software robotics."

The use of software robots will help the bank cut down its response time by 60% and reduce the time to avail a personal loan on credit card to a mere 4 hours from the earlier 8 hours. The bank's retail portfolio, which recently crossed Rs 2 lakh crore might be the biggest beneficiary of this latest move.
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"With our retail banking growing at 25% every year, software robotics will enable us to handle larger volumes with the same resources," Kochhar said.
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