Young technologists brainstorm voice-driven banking services through hackathon at IITM Research Park

Chennai, March 30, 2023:

IIT Madras Research Park (IITMRP) and IIT Madras Incubation Cell (IITMIC) join hands with the Reserve Bank Innovation Hub (RBIH) to drive voice-driven banking innovation. The objective is to address language barriers., a key challenge in financial inclusion for millions of Indians. The Voice-based banking solution aims at performing basic banking transactions through voice-commandsin the Indian languages of Hindi, Tamil and Telugu to start with, in addition to English. The innovation will assist people who are illiterate and visually impaired, in their banking services and help the underbanked population in overcoming language barriers during their banking activities.

Marking the onset of this collaboration, IITMRP, IITMIC and RBIH, in partnership with leading banks, SBI, Axis Bank, Kotak Mahindra and IDFC First conducted the voice banking hackathon ‘Vaulter Voice’ at the IIT Madras Research Park campus. Students, start-ups and young working professionals across the country passionate aboutdeveloping voice-based solutions that promote financial inclusion in India, participated in the hackathon, showcasing the potential and possibility of voice-based banking services.

It was on the International Mother Language Day, IITMRP announced the Voice Banking Hackathon, inviting students, start-ups and young working professionals, with the challenge to develop a solution that can perform basic banking transactions through voice-commands in the Indian vernacular languages along with English. Out of the 114 registrations received from students and working professionals from across 35+ institutes and colleges across the country, IITMRP shortlisted nine finalist teams who were invited for a 6-hour hackathon to work on their solutions, where they tested the app developed by them, executing additional commands/tasks and presented it before the expert panel.

Commenting on the possibilities of voice banking, Mr. Rajesh Bansal, CEO of RBIH said, “There are over 600 million low and middle-income individuals in India without access to digital banking. We aim to help more than half of such underbanked population to overcome their challenges in banking services with voice banking in the next few years”.

“The stage is set for voice banking in India. The real need of the hour is developing Indian technology which specifically addresses our regional languages. As part of our “Fintech for Inclusion” initiative, we will look at potentially incubating some of the solutions showcased today, perfect their solutions and work with our partner banks to run a pilot programme or adopt these solutions as part of their banking services. We should be able to roll out a pilot project in around 12-18 months and potentially scale them in the next 2-3 years,” added Prof Ashok Jhunjhunwala, President of IIT Madras Research Park.

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