The State Bank of India (SBI), the country’s largest lender, on Tuesday entered the mobile wallet business with the launch of SBI Buddy mobile application, in a move to strengthen its digital initiatives.
This initiative, SBI chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya, said was part of the bank’s move to become “the banker to digital India”. "This is one more step in our ambition of becoming the provider-of-choice for customers' everyday needs, both financial and non-financial. Mobile is going to be at the centre of this transformation and this application will help us strengthen our proposition through this medium," she told the gathering in Mumbai, where Finance Minister Arun Jaitley launched the application.
SBI Buddy is bank-, telecom- and smartphone-agnostic, which means that people can transact using the app whether or not they are SBI customers or are credit card users.
SBI Buddy, launched in collaboration with Accenture and MasterCard, comes with features like sending money to registered and new users, reminders to settle dues, transferring additional cash into an account of one’s choice, recharging and paying utility bills instantly, booking movie and flight tickets, besides online shopping and hotel bookings.
The government is banking heavily on the ‘Digital India’ initiative that aims to make optimum use of technology to improve governance.
SBI has a 20 percent market share, a customer base of 28.6 crore, of which 2.3 crore are net banking customers and 1.2 crore are mobile banking customers.
Several of India’s private banks such as HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank have launched mobile payment solutions. In June, HDFC Bank launched Payzapp, a one-click payment and purchase solution for its debit and credit card holders. It has also launched Chillr, a third party app platform that enables users to transfer money to anybody in their phone book contacts. ICICI Bank has launched ‘Pockets’, a wallet model aimed to take on industry rivals Paytm and MobiKwik.
Bhattacharya has been aggressively focusing on steps to reduce bad loan levels, boost profitability and use technology platforms to raise income and expand its reach. In May, SBI signed two important deals: One with Amazon, to facilitate payment and commerce solutions for its customers and small businesses; and the other, with payment gateway PayPal, to facilitate cross-border transactions.
SBI reported a 10 percent rise in net profit to Rs 3,692 crore in the first quarter ending June 2015, beating analysts’ forecasts, on the back of higher treasury income and fee income.
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