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Merging the operations of a new-age private sector bank with that of an old public sector undertaking is similar to retrofitting a taxi with spares retrieved from a Ferrari. Oriental Bank of Commerce, however, has a game plan whereby its own systems will be raised to that of the level of the failed Global Trust Bank.

One advantage for OBC is that it has embarked on implementing Infosys' Finacle, the same core banking solution that is used by GTB. According to BD Narang, chairman, OBC, GTB's technology is far more advanced than that of his own bank and his objective will be to raise the systems of OBC to that of the private bank.

OBC's plan is to go in for forward integration; that is bringing its own branches in line with the technology of GTB rather than go backward. But this will require OBC to address the issue of varying level of technology skills between the employees of the two banks.

OBC has just completed the first stage of IT which is branch computerisation by computerising most of its 950-odd branches. The bank has signed a deal with Infosys' to install Finacle as the core banking solution and Wipro as the additional systems integrator for its networking project.

Over the next year the bank expects about 225 branches to go online. The next step would be the networking of these branches. GTB is already way ahead and it offers customers any-branch anytime banking.

There are other differences as well. GTB's partner for its debit card is Visa, which has enabled the bank to issue its Proton international debit cards. OBC on the other hand has partnered Mastercard for its pre-paid card.

There is also a difference in the delivery channels that the two banks use. In addition to ATMs, customers can access their accounts through Internet, telephone or even through cell phone, SMS messages. Oriental Bank of Commerce customers access the bank largely through its branches and automated teller machines.

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