Fast Facts: Student Loans

January 22, 2013
/   Insights

The Financial Services Roundtable recently released another iteration of its Fast Facts, reliable, bullet-point research about issues facing the financial services industry. Topics span TARP, Dodd-Frank, insurance, lending, retirement savings and more.  Below are some updated Fast...

Cause and Effect: If you build it, will they come?

July 23, 2014
/   Spotlight

Many financial institutions assume that digital banking is lucrative because the most valuable customers happen to bank online. While there is certainly a correlation between online bankers and higher profitability, quantitative evidence suggests that...

Intuit 2020 Report: The Future of Financial Services

April 11, 2011
/   Insights

Today, Intuit released the latest edition of the Intuit 2020 report, Intuit 2020 Report: The Future of Financial Services, which identifies and examines four key trend areas that will  transform the financial services industry...

The Top 10 Trends in the Digital Banking Industry

December 18, 2013
/   Spotlight

2014 is rapidly approaching and as the year wraps, the Digital Insight team has pulled together the top 10 trends in the digital banking industry based on data and trends from studying financial institutions....

Small Business: Perception vs. Reality

November 21, 2012
/   Insights

In the most recent election cycle, like most others before it, the one sector of the economy that got the most attention was small business.  This is the future, we were told by every...

Industry Perception, Optical Delusion

January 14, 2013
/   Insights

In Washington, they talk a lot about ‘optics.’ This has nothing to do with regulatory scrutiny, or government mandates on eyeglasses. It has to do with perception—how something looks, the way a particular story...

Social Banking: Blessing or Curse?

August 1, 2012
/   Insights

While the topic of Facebook and banking has generated plenty of heat (though not necessarily a lot of light), the debate seems mostly focused on two broad issues: The much-maligned IPO, and the notion...

Mobile Banking Engagement: Data from Digital Insight

June 24, 2013
/   Spotlight

Intuit Financial Services has been conducting a comprehensive and ongoing study of financial institution customers. From these studies, the company has been able to provide a deeper view of banking customer behavior across several...

If there was ever doubt that banking can be a force remarkable social change, just take a look at some recent events in India. In a way, it’s a case study in extremes; in another, its represents fundamental cultural shifts.

In October of last year, Arundhati Bhattacharya was appointed Chairperson of the State Bank of India (SBI). It’s a post that holds enormous power: The government-owned institution is the nation’s largest by assets, has 15,000-plus branches and in fact manages more than 20% of all banking assets in the country. The fact that she was the first woman in this position should not have been remarkable—she was long considered a top contender for the post, having previously served as CFO.

Portrait of a young attractive business woman.Moreover, the Indian banking industry has been far more open to women executives that most others, and there’s now a high-profile roster of women in senior positions. The thinking is that unlike industries such as manufacturing, where there’s a shop floor with more patriarchal attitudes, banking is a field where intellectual capital is prized and technology-driven change is rampant. These factors contribute to a more modern atmosphere.

But then, just a short time after the not-so-groundbreaking appointment at SBI, Bharatiya Mahila Bank launched in Mumbai and six other Indian cities.  A small startup like this would not be particularly newsworthy except for one factor: It’s for women only.

The institution, which claims 23 branches around the country and plans to open up to 60 more this year alone, is designed to offer economic empowerment to women, with special attention devoted to deprived, under-banked and unbanked areas to ensure sustainable growth. For the record, well over a third of the country is unbanked, and in many rural areas the circumstances for women are even more difficult. All of the new bank’s directors are women, as are most senior executives and employees, and the hope is that those who need loans the most will feel more comfortable asking for them in this environment.

The sad irony is that no one doubts the need for such an institution. The dichotomy is obvious: Even as a succession of high-achieving women climbing the highest rungs of the industry’s ladders, many other women find it hard to access the basic financial resources they desperately need, and a somewhat discriminatory option like this is the best and perhaps only way to help fix the imbalance.

And there’s another factor that might seem incongruous. The foundation for the bank, which is created to take on traditional problems that should no longer exist, is very 21st century. The regional subsidiaries of FIS Global is providing the bank’s technology, which includes core banking, eBanking, and debit card and ATM servicing and processing.

Under the terms of the multi-year agreement, FIS provides a fully integrated banking and payments platform through an outsourced delivery model encompassing core banking, channels, trade finance and the entire suite of payments services, which includes switching, debit card management services and ATM management. The company set up and manages data centers, deploying and managing the branch technology infrastructure. For its part, the bank is building on a strategy that incorporates satellite and ultra-small mobile branches in addition to the conventional ones being put in place.

Banking, technology and social change—it makes for a heady mix, but a good one.

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James W. Gabberty

Gabberty is a professor of information systems at Pace University in New York City. An alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and New York University Polytechnic Institute, he has served as an expert witness in telecommunication and information security at the federal and state levels and holds numerous certifications from SANS & ISACA.

Marisa Mann

Marisa Mann brings over 15 years of experience in consulting and financial services industries to the Solstice team, working on large scale enterprise initiatives across many technologies, including specializing in the digital space – Internet and mobile. Mann is passionate about mobile and the endless possibilities for the enterprise, delivering business value through strong brand recognition and driving to excellence in the consumer experience. Prior to Solstice, Mann worked at JP Morgan Chase, Diamond Management and Technology Consultants, Washington Mutual, Inc, and Accenture.

Zachary Ehrlich

25-year-old writer, and as a native San Franciscan, I am unreasonably loyal to Bank of America, if only for their superhero-like origin story, involving the 1906 earthquake and Italian fruit vendors.

Brad Strothkamp

http://www.forrester.com/rb/analyst/brad_strothkamp