bank new

Source | Inc42.com | Shweta Modgil

“Robots are the new middle class. And everyone else will either be an entrepreneur or a temp staffer.” -James Altucher

In the months from November 2016 to January 2017, the Indian banking system quietly saw the beginning of yet another revolution. It was not as talked about and debated like the demonetisation move by PM Narendra Modi.Rather, it started off with the appearance of two friendly humanoids in the Indian banking scene – Lakshmi and IRA.

So, in November 2016, City Union Bank became the first bank in India to introduce a robot to deal with customer queries. Lakshmi, the robot, based on IBM Watson’s artificial intelligence (AI) engine, is located at a branch in Chennai and could rattle off answers to almost 125 different customer queries.

In January 2017, India’s second largest private sector lender, HDFC Bank followed suit deploying a humanoid called IRA at their Kamla Mills branch in Mumbai. IRA developed using robotics and AI technologies by a Kochi-based startup, Asimov Robotics, is positioned near the welcome desk where it greets customers and guides them to the relevant counter in the branch – such as cash deposit, foreign exchange, loans among others.

 

Both City Union and HDFC bank plan to deploy at least 20-30 humanoids in their branches, over the next two years. However, their functions won’t be restricted to just greeting customers and answering simple queries going forward.

In the next phase, IRA’s capabilities will be enhanced further by introducing features such as Voice and Facial recognition for customer identification, Voice-guided navigation, Balance enquiry and Cheque deposits among others. In fact, some banks might even have plans to connect their core banking platform (CBS) to the humanoid to enable it to perform actual transactions. The day is not far when IRA and Lakshmi could be counting and disbursing cash from the bank counters.

Inc42 spoke to the founder of Asimov Robotics, Jayakrishnan T, about the development of IRA and how AI can change the very fundamentals of our lives in the coming years.

 

Both City Union and HDFC bank plan to deploy at least 20-30 humanoids in their branches, over the next two years. However, their functions won’t be restricted to just greeting customers and answering simple queries going forward.

In the next phase, IRA’s capabilities will be enhanced further by introducing features such as Voice and Facial recognition for customer identification, Voice-guided navigation, Balance enquiry and Cheque deposits among others. In fact, some banks might even have plans to connect their core banking platform (CBS) to the humanoid to enable it to perform actual transactions. The day is not far when IRA and Lakshmi could be counting and disbursing cash from the bank counters.

Inc42 spoke to the founder of Asimov Robotics, Jayakrishnan T, about the development of IRA and how AI can change the very fundamentals of our lives in the coming years.

Primarily, the bank wanted to address the hospitality aspect – the robot should be able to identify the people sitting in the hall, greet them, check with them what they are looking for, and guide them to whatever procedure or product they are looking for.

And that’s how IRA came to be – in a time span of just about eight months. While the first version is still a proof of concept and involved a lot of wastage, going forward, the robot will reportedly cost roughly around the price of an affordable good car.

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