India's largest public sector bank is gearing up to go hi-tech. Its new offering- SIA- is currently under beta-testing.
SIA, or the SBI Intelligent Assistant, is a chatbot that will guide you through products and services and answer queries.
SBI isn't new to use of bots and AI though. In fact, over 80% of its transactions are done through machines!
SIA will help customers and the bank too, says SBI
SIA is an attempt to streamline processes so human resources can be more creatively used, SBI said.
It will also ease the process for customers who have to navigate "quite a bit" for general enquiries.
SIA will answer queries on different types of loans and deposits.
It has been developed by Allincall, an IIT-Bombay-backed start-up. We don't yet know when it will be released.
How has automation fared in the Indian banking system?
The influx of machines into the Indian banking sector started in the early 1980s when leading banks including SBI set up data processing cells for reconciliation: back-office workers engaged in routine tasks were substantially replaced by machines.
Then came ATMs, which made thousands of tellers and cashiers obsolete.
Banks eventually launched cash/cheque deposit machines, cash recyclers and self-service kiosks, making processes even more automated.
"Banking will be required, but banks may not be"
SBI says use of AI isn't new with SIA; SBI inTouch works on bots and AI like IBM Watson.
Last year, ICICI Bank launched Software Robotics, an emulation of human actions, in over 200 processes. Response time was cut by upto 60%.
Axis Bank is working on its own banking chatbot. HDFC Bank recently announced Ira, a humanoid robot, in some branches.