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State Bank of India, the country’s largest bank, the only Indian Bank to feature in the world’s top 100 banks and also the only Indian Bank to find a place in global Fortune 500 list, has today forged a stronger relationship with the Indian Army. Two of the oldest institutions in the country, both with long histories, have shared a relationship which goes back more than 200 years. Since the early 19th century the 3 Presidency Banks of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras were merged in 1921 to form the Imperial Bank of India, known for its integrity and lofty traditions in banking. Subsequently in 1955, the Imperial Bank of India was reconstituted and renamed as State Bank of India. This financial power house has been one of the principal bankers to the Indian Army and also to its personnel posted all over the country.
The salary of PBORs (Personnel Below Officers Rank) of the Indian Army is up to now paid to them on the Acqittance Roll system by which, only their monthly requirement is paid to them in cash and the rest accumulates with the government, usually until retirement. The Army is at present undergoing a pilot project with CGDA to convert this current cash system into a monthly salary payment system through Bank Accounts. This project also includes a complete computerization of their salary records which are being maintained manually.
SBI has today launched a new product called the Defence Salary Package – Army which offers a bundle of free/concessional services to the officers and PBORs graded into 4 categories by rank rather than salaries. The package which includes free drafts, free cheques books, free funds transfers to any of the State Bank Group’s network of almost 15000 branches, free funds transfers to any bank in India through RTGS/NEFT, free ATM cards and many other ‘attractive features”, will be available to the DSP account holders even after retirement. SBI’s FY 2010 plan to add 13000 ATMs to its existing count of 11865 will benefit the 1.2 million strong Indian Army as the Bank intends to locate a large number of ATMs to serve Army formations just as many of its branches are already located in difficult and arduous terrain. The Bank’s network of Business Correspondents appointed in un-banked rural areas will also be available for the basic banking requirement of the troops and their families. This Business Correspondent model which is aimed at Financial Inclusion works on the basis of a bio-metric Smart Card called SBI Tiny. There is also a special product for the large contingent of Gorkhas from Nepal. The Bank’s Nepal Express Remit Scheme is built on its own Core banking platform and enables instant funds transfers to Nepal as against RBI’s Indo Nepal Remittance Scheme which rides on the NEFT platform.
SBI’s product the DSP – Army was launched formally today at the DRDO Bhawan, New Delhi jointly by the Chairman Shri O.P. Bhatt and the Chief of Army Staff Gen. Deepak Kapoor, PVSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, ADC. The launch was attended by the Army top brass from AHQ as well as JCOs, ORs, and their families.