The largest lender in the country, State Bank of India (SBI) is planning to set up a one-of-a-kind innovation centre in Belapur, Navi Mumbai that sprawls across 15,000 sq ft. The company will be investing around Rs.100 crore in the project.
The centre will be the largest innovation centre owned by a financial institution in the country and it will be located at the bank’s Global IT Centre.
SBI’s innovation head, Sidon Baraokar has indicated that the centre is being built so that the bank is on par with the incremental advances in technology in the domain. He also mentioned that the bank will have 40 zones, each dedicated for technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain, machine learning, etc. Baraokar further stated that the operations of the innovation centre was conceived after the bank had set aside Rs.200 crore for innovations in 2016.
In addition to the innovation centre, SBI has allocated Rs.50 crore for buying equity stakes in new companies and procuring solutions from innovative startups.
Baraokar said that the innovation team currently has 12 members, and this will increase to more than 30 after the launch of the centre. He also mentioned that the bank has decided to set aside around 5% of its IT budget towards adopting innovative practices on a continuous basis.
Although the bank has not made any equity investments from the allocated fund, it has entered into a partnership with startup Allincall (incubated by IIT-Bombay) for procurement.
Baraokar said that the bank is also spearheading innovation efforts across the industry for fast learnings. This project is referred to as “bank chain”. Through this, SBI collaborates with other banks to analyse financial technologies and block chain solutions. Bank chain started in February this year and there are regular conferences held for the members. The initiative includes 27 financial institutions, 5 of which are based in the Middle East. This forum of banks essentially tries to find innovative solutions that can be applied across the industry.