The country’s largest banker, State Bank Of India (SBI), is in talks with Microsoft to utilize the technology that will enable digital banking facilities in rural areas to help people with little access to telecom networks. India’s born chief Executive of Microsoft company, Satya Nadella is looking at the country as the major market to implement its so-called “white space” and “wide area WiFi or Wide-Fi” technologies- a concept that taps the unutilised spectrum of television and cable TV network for the internet access. We are experimenting with it (white space), but the security aspect of it is not established. We are hungry. In fact, Mr. Satya Ndella is also talking with us for the Wide-Fi,” said by the SBI’s Deputy Managing Director and the Chief Information Officer of the company Mrutyunjay Mahapatra.
Since from July last year, Microsoft company has been testing the “white space” in Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh. The technology provides free television airwaves unutilised by the national broadcaster to access the internet and to communicate over long distances through Skype. Wide-Fi uses the existing cable TV networks in rural areas to provide the internet access.
Dhananjaya Tambe who is the chief general manager at SBI said, we are in talks with the Microsoft for the White Space. He also said, ” if they are willing to provide white space here it will be very good”. Microsoft’s Director of Corporate Communications Gayatri Rath did not respond to any calls or e-mails.
SBI officials said that the bank was also experimenting with the other technologies as well as to reach out to the place where there are no reliable connectivity options. For example, in the initial phases, the banks could take the help of V-Sat, or satellite technology, which already runs the ATM networks all over the country, to carry out the digital banking. It is also experimenting with the radio frequency (RF) technology.
The Chief Information Officer of the company Mrutyunjay Mahapatra said,“We are now trying RF technology. In rural areas, there is unhindered visibility, which is required for RF. It cannot work in urban areas as there are large buildings hindering incoming frequencies,”. He also said, “We are not only a profit-oriented institution. We make the profit, but that is incidental. The amount we spend on technology is more than four times of the next technology spender, which is from the private sector,”.
For now, though, SBI’s digital expansion is limited to only those places where connectivity is good.
“This is the area where we will have to cooperate with the government. We have already given the statement to the government that we may have to expand only for the villages where the connectivity is very poor. Because otherwise, even if we give the app and mobile to the people, it will not work because of the poor connection” said by Tambe.