Thursday, 2 February 2017

The #IRA of robotic banking is here

Digital processes have been a boon for banking and financial services industry. The introduction of automation has been a decade long practice which drastically reduced turn-around time and operational costs. The age of innovation was not merely a coincidence. Processes and operational costs were ever increasing the budgets were decreasing. The new wave of technology is making it easier, quicker and cheaper to automate. In addition, machine learning and cognitive capabilities has opened the door of automation for basic customer centric processes.


HDFC Bank, India’s premier private sector bank has entered in the field of robotic banking. IRA, an intelligent humanoid was introduced by HDFC Bank Kamala Mills Branch in Mumbai. IRA, which stands for Intelligent Robotic Assistant, will help branch staff in servicing customers. With this launch, HDFC Bank becomes the first bank in the country to introduce a humanoid for customer service.

IRA will be positioned near welcome desks to greet and guide customers to the dedicated counters. Customers can tap on display screen placed on IRA and select the service she wants to avail. IRA will personally assist you to the dedicated counter. In coming months, IRA would also assist customers on balance enquiry, mini statement and cheque deposits. In next phase, IRA would able to speak and understand regional languages for the ease of customers. Innovative features like voice recognition and face recognition are also in planning.

IRA is developed and designed in Kochi which is considered as hub of start-ups in India. The human sized robot was built together with Artificial Intelligence by Asimov Robotics. This interactive robot is in-line with government initiatives like Make in India, Digital India and Start Up India. HDFC Bank plans to introduce up to 20 humanoid robots in its branches in next 18 to 24 months.

We’re excited to announce the deployment of our first humanoid, IRA in the Kamala Mills branch. IRA is quite unique and will serve as a technology demonstrator in the field of artificial intelligence and robotics,” said Mr. Nitin Chugh, Country Head, Digital Banking, HDFC Bank at the launch event in Mumbai.
For financial institutions in challenging market, use of robots in repetitive and compliance driven work will improve reliability, quality, scalability and reduce costs. Robots as seen in Sci-Fi and animated movies will soon become part of our daily lives. Humanoids like IRA drive high on the ‘awww factor’. The more automation and reliability banking can bring into customer experience will define the industry’s success for many years to come.
- Chaitanya Kulkarni

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