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Smart Savings - Telecom deployment pays off for Axis Bank

April 15, 2010

Jointly promoted by the Unit Trust of India, the Life Insurance Corporation of India, the General Insurance Corporation of India and four public sector insurance companies, Axis Bank began operations in 1994. The bank is functional in the areas of retail and corporate banking, and has a network of more than 1,000 branches and extension counters and over 11,000 ATMs as on March 31, 2010.

Given its growing presence, the bank realised the need to exploit telecom as a strategic business tool. This was necessary in order to deliver services across multiple channels and maintain a competitive edge.

tele.net takes a look at the company's telecom-related initiatives so far...

Legacy system

Initially, the company did not have a standardised IT and telecom service delivery platform. Each branch office had its own IT and telecom set-up with individual components and functioned independently. Thus, sharing and transfer of data were not possible.

The bank realised that these "islands of information" were a serious disadvantage, resulting in replication of work, wastage of time and resources, and frequent delays.Moreover, each customer transaction entailed a lot of paperwork.

The bank used a core banking solution, Finacle, provided by Infosys. This comprised several modules relating to functions such as core banking and ebanking. Log lines were used for voicebased services while point-to-point links provided the preferred medium for datacentric requirements.

However, as its business grew, Axis Bank felt the need for a strong platform for further growth. Besides, the company needed a solution that would facilitate close monitoring of projects and quick decision-making.

The shift

To begin with, the bank focused on its voice infrastructure. From using log lines, it shifted to primary rate interface lines. Then, in order to consolidate and streamline voice-based processes, the organisation opted for a Centrex solution provided by Bharti Airtel and Tata Communications. The solution provided the bank with an integrated multi-locational telephone line (both existing and new) system.

Several technologies were used for its wide area network. These included DLC (local national long distance), IPLCs, ISDN and the internet. For connectivity among its various branch offices, the bank opted for domestic leased circuits as pointto-point links, both as primary and back-up options. This medium offered the company "always-on connectivity", which supported bandwidth-hungry applications.

To connect its overseas offices, IPLCs, provided by Tata Communications and Bharti Airtel, were used. For internet access, the company opted for a single connectivity medium, metro Ethernet.This 45 MB medium offered a flexible and cost-effective connectivity option, thereby helping the bank to trim overheads.

Mobile email, conferencing facilities, mobile data connectivity and corporate intranet were used to maintain connectivity while on the move. Apart from the advantage of anytime, anywhere mobility, corporate intranet provided the company with a cheap, flexible and user-friendly medium. It allowed the bank to innovate and keep its employees informed about recent developments.

Multiple security mediums were used by the bank. These included the authentication, authorisation and accounting protocol, which authenticated an entity's identity via passwords, one-time tokens, digital certificates and phone numbers (calling/called); authorised an entity to perform a given activity such as IP address and filtering; and tracked the consumption of network resources by users.Internet protocol security, IDA and ITM were used for securing data.

For redundancy, Axis Bank built a disaster recovery centre in Bangalore, which served as its secondary IT site.

The bank used the internet as a strategic tool. Customers could access netbanking facilities for both personal and corporate banking-related activities, and check the entire portfolio of services via the website.

In early 2010, the bank introduced the "Axis Call and Pay on Atom" service, a mobile payment solution through Axis Bank debit cards. With the launch, Axis became the first bank in the country to provide a secure debit card-based payment service over interactive voice response.

The service allows customers to make payments anywhere, anytime over the mobile phone. To avail of this service, customers need to link their mobile number to the debit card from an Axis Bank ATM.Following this, the system calls back and guides customers to set a six-digit mPIN, which is used during each transaction.


The IT and telecom upgrade has provided Axis Bank with a flexible infrastructure.The new set-up has not only facilitated and streamlined easy communication, but has also left room to increase or decrease bandwidth. It has enabled the bank to achieve seamless integration with its partners and customers. It has also helped the organisation to effectively manage its telecom-related costs and reduce downtime.Overall, the new infrastructure has provided adequate support for the bank's back and front-office operations.

Thus, by stepping up its IT and telecom infrastructure, Axis Bank has been able to cut communication costs, improve and enhance overall productivity and efficiency, and disseminate news to subscribers faster. Going forward, the company hopes to implement enterprise applications such as video and audio conferencing, and migrate to multi-protocol label switching as a base for its communications infrastructure.


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