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State Bank of India sets up Rs 200 crore fintech fund

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In an increasing interest in the financial technology space, State Bank of India (SBI) announced a Rs 200 crore startup fund for using banking and related IT technology, reports Press Trust of India. SBI Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya said that the bank would give assistance of Rs 3 crore to Indian registered companies to develop innovations in the fintech space.

She added that the bank has formed a mentoring team to assist these companies in terms of further financing, legal and technical aid. She added that the bank will be looking at cross selling their products through these companies.

SBI joins a growing list of banks which are offering assistance to fintech companies:

– Earlier in the week, foreign lender Barclays opened a fintech innovation centre in Mumbai called Rise. This is Barclays’ sixth Rise site globally, following the London, Manchester, New York, Cape Town and Tel Aviv hubs.
– While HDFC Bank selected products from five fintech companies to be deployed in the bank as part of its Digital Innovation Summit.
– In April, ICICI Bank hosted an ‘Appathon’ where the bank gave access to more than 200 APIs from the ICICI Group to developers to create products.

Digital push

In a recent interview, Bhattacharya said that the bank is aiming to push for 80% of their transactions to be on digital channels. This would entail that the bank pushing customers to give up cash and adopt transactions on Point of Sale machines.

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SBI became the top merchant acquiring bank for POS terminals in the country with more than three lakh machines, as per Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) March data. SBI has acquired 302,119 merchants while HDFC Bank came in second with 283,274. Axis Bank came third with 263,951 while ICICI Bank came in fourth with 200,759 machines.

Recent fintech developments in banking

– In June, private sector lender DCB Bank launched an ATM which accepts Aadhaar number and fingerprints instead of card and PIN. This was piloted earlier in May in Odisha. DCB Bank says that it would be extending the facility to all of its 400  ATMs across the country in the next six months.

– In the same month, HDFC Bank launched a new payments app called UltraCash which will allow users to make proximity payments at merchants without NFC technology. Instead, UltraCash uses high frequency sound waves to make a payment.

– In May, Singapore-based DBS Bank launched a mobile-only banking model in India expand its customer base. The bank will use technologies such as biometrics in Aadhaar for account opening and virtual assistants for customer support. DBS Bank will be deploying Digibank kiosks, at 500 Coffee Day Cafes to begin with, across the country so that customers can open an account.

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