State Bank of India (SBI) is going beyond the practice of data warehousing to create a data lake, which will offer on-the-go analytics to bank executives, deputy managing director and chief information officer Mrutyunjay Mahapatra tells Shritama Bose. The lender has placed an order for six lakh fingerprint readers for biometric authentication at point-of-sale (PoS) terminals, he added. Edited excerpts:
Tell us about the data lake SBI is working on.
What we have found is that the existing system of data warehousing, which deals with internal structured data, is not adequate to meet requirements of the emerging nature of projects. We found that there is a lot of data inside the organisation which is in unstructured format in the form of, say, video recordings, MIS which is not integrated with CBS (core banking system), customer letters, minutes of meetings and so on. Additionally, there are a large number of entities outside the organisation having data relevant to the bank, such as CIBIL, the Registrar of Companies and insurance companies which are doing key man insurance for the borrower.
We have decided that we must go into an area where we have a data lake concept. With data warehouse, which is a more rigorous kind of regime, it can work side by side and complement functions of data lake and giving us a new technology to process on an ongoing basis. Today, we require almost on-the-go analytics, which is not possible with the data warehouse.
So will this be a cloud-based system?
It could be public cloud-based, or we have the biggest private cloud in the BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance) sector in all of Asia. It is called Meghdoot. We’ll try to deploy that or we will move to the public cloud. By that time, we hope the misgivings related to public cloud will be gone.
With large databases that many of our financial institutions are working on, how well prepared are we for attacks such as the one on Hitachi last year and Equifax recently?
The preparation is in two parts. One, preventing incidents, and two, reacting when they strike. Do we have the war-room procedure to get the systems up and running so that customer data is not compromised and there is no loss to the system? On both these fronts, SBI has been doing a lot of work. We have now a security operation centre which is quite advanced.
We have the ability to quarantine traffic from rogue countries, from locations which are known to be originators of rogue traffic. We are also deploying technology so that hacker traffic can be killed before it can do any harm. The second thing we are doing is to ask ethical hackers to hack our system within a controlled environment. Most importantly, when an incident happens, there is a reporting mechanism and there are multiple agencies we have to report to. There is work being done to have a unified reporting mechanism.
To what extent is the biometric infrastructure in the system ready for things for Aadhaar-based banking?
Recently, we have placed an order for 600,000 machines for capturing fingerprints at point-of-sale machines. Another important touch point is the ATM machines. They currently do not have the capability to capture fingerprints for transactions. That will require some expenditure, but if Aadhaar seeding happens, I think we should be able to do it. We are one of the first adopters of Aadhaar Pay and we are ready for it.