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Yes Bank Uses RFID to Personalize Service

The Indian bank is issuing RFID-enabled cards to wealthy clients so they can be recognized and promptly served when they enter its branches.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 13, 2008Yes Bank, a commercial bank that maintains 101 branches across India, has completed a pilot of an RFID system enabling branch employees to identify bank customers as they enter a particular location. The technology makes it possible for customers to receive personalized service without having to identify themselves.

The system, provided by SkandSoft Technologies, has been piloted at Yes Bank's suburban Delhi branch for the past five months, says the bank's executive VP and country head for direct banking, Ravishankar, and is slated to go live there in mid-October. In the following six to eight months, he says, the bank intends to deploy the technology at about a dozen additional branches.

At Yes Bank, an arriving customer is identfied by RFID interrogator antennas hidden in signs installed at the doorway.

Yes Bank focuses on cutting-edge technology, Ravishankar says, calling itself the "new age" of Indian banking. Personalized service is essential at the Delhi branch, he notes, because of the nature of the bank's wealthy clients. The branch is located in one of Delhi's wealthiest areas, where the majority of the bank's customers have high expectations for the personalized service they receive. Although employees can not know the names of every customer who comes through the door, Ravishankar says, many clients may expect them to do so, and do not want to announce their own names. Instead, they prefer that the bank recognize them and provide personalized service accordingly.

To make this possible, Yes Bank is deploying a system that puts more information in the hands of its staff. For the trial, the bank provided 21 customers with RFID-enabled banking cards. The RFID inlays, provided by Gemini Traze, were embedded in the cards. Gemini Traze also provided RFID interrogators and customized gate antennas.

The card's 13.56 MHz passive RFID chip, which complies with the Near Field Communication (NFC) standards, is encoded with a unique ID number, says Amol Mudgal, SkandSoft's head of business development. That number links to data regarding the individual customer on a standalone SkandSoft system that utilizes data from the Yes Bank server. The information includes the bank patron's name, account number and photograph. For customers opting to send one of their own employees to take care of their banking needs, that worker also receives an RFID banking card linked to the employee's photograph, as well as related data.

At the door of the branch, SkandSoft interrogators capture the unique ID number on the card's RFID tag, whether it resides in a person's wallet, pocket or purse. That number is then transmitted by the reader via a cabled connection to the back-end system. SkandSoft software interprets that data, displaying the name and photo of the individual arriving as a pop-up on fixed screens in multiple locations within the branch—at the desk of the greeter, as well as at the stations of the branch's "relationship-management team."

Simultaneously, a SkandSoft camera at the entrance is prompted by the system to photograph the individual entering, then send that picture to the same SkandSoft server, where it can then be matched with the customer's photo on file, to verify that individual's identity. Relationship-management team members then have the option to select that customer's data, indicating they will serve that person. If no one selects a particular customer within a predetermined span of time, the pop-up appears on the branch manager's desktop computer. Once a customer has been selected for service, the pop-up vanishes from all screens.

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