India Post has implemented the Infosys Finacle core banking system at 540 post offices to replace a legacy in-house developed platform. It still has a remaining 150,000+ post offices to tackle in its enterprise-wide revamp before year-end.

The Department of Post in India is most of the way through its enterprise-wide implementation of the Infosys Finacle core banking solution to transform the banking operations at 155,000 post offices across the country. To date, 540 post offices have gone live with the system, says CN Raghupathi, vice-president and head of the India Business Unit at Infosys, with the remainder expected to launch by December this year. The project, which has cost around INR700 crores ($125.3 million), aims to cover more than 200 million banking customers across India.

The project started two years ago as part of the India Post 2012 Modernisation Programme. Underpinning this was the fact that India Post wanted ‘a platform which could reach out to the deepest rural areas in India and provide every citizen with access to banking facilities’.

India Post went to market and evaluated various providers, including TCS with Bancs, before settling for the Infosys offering to replace a legacy home-grown system. Raghupathi states: ‘India Post was previously managing with very little computerisation. Its set-up was simplistic and was not centralised, so each post office kept its own data and sent it to the central headquarters every so often.’

The implementation work began in September 2012 and the original project completion date was set for July 2014. However, it is running ‘slightly’ behind, says Raghupathi, due to ‘delays in setting up the onsite data centre’. As well as this, he comments, there have been two other areas of concern. One was that India Post’s users were accustomed to operating a ‘simplistic’ system and so the new functionality seemed ‘too complex’ for them at first glance. The other issue was that ‘some of the data was 50 to 100 years old, so it was hard to deal with during the migration’.

Raghupathi notes that an ample amount of time has been spent on security, stress and end user testing, and customisation. He says: ‘It was not an out-of-the-box model because India Post had a lot of legacy and so we have had to test and tweak the solution.’ One part of the customisation phase has focused on user training, he explains, ‘creating easy-to-use screens and removing any complexities to make it simpler for users’. Around 39,000 staff are being trained.

With Finacle, Raghupathi believes the post offices will become ‘mini banks’. He states: ‘Of late the post office has been losing its relevance all over the world. But enabling it to become more of a financial institution means that India Post will have reinvented itself to provide banking facilities, including mobile banking, to the people of India at a high standard.’

Established in the 1850s, each one of India Post’s offices caters to around 7000 citizens, equating to one post office every 21.2 square kilometres.

By Chloe Mosdell

by IBS Intelligence