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2 autobiographies, 2 chairpersons, and the story behind SBI's super App YONO's birth

2 autobiographies, 2 chairpersons, and the story behind SBI's super App YONO's birth

Rajnish Kumar, who replaced B Sriram as MD (National Banking Group) and worked under Chairperson Bhattacharya gives a detailed account of the YONO app's launch in his memoir titled 'The Custodian of Trust - A Banker's Memoir.'

SBI's former chairmen Arundhati Bhattacharya and Rajnish Kumar had back-to-back tenure when the super App YONO's idea was born. SBI's former chairmen Arundhati Bhattacharya and Rajnish Kumar had back-to-back tenure when the super App YONO's idea was born.

So here are two autobiographies in the market of two powerful chairpersons -- Arundhati Bhattacharya and Rajnish Kumar -- of the country's largest bank, the State Bank of India (SBI), who had back-to-back tenure when the super App YONO's idea was born.

The first woman chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya of SBI, who has turned author with her autobiography - 'Indomitable - A Working Woman's Notes on Life, Work, and Leadership', writes how B Sriram, MD ( National Banking Group) has suggested that the bank should also aim to have a marketplace model and not only an app.

Rajnish Kumar, who replaced Sriram as MD (National Banking Group) and worked under Chairperson Bhattacharya gives a detailed account of the YONO app's launch in his memoir titled 'The Custodian of Trust - A Banker's Memoir.'

While giving his account of the events, Kumar says it was not easy to convince the senior management team of the bank to go for such a massive transformational change.

While giving her account, Bhattacharya writes that as the bank's digitisation journey accelerated, the it realised that now the next step was to provide a mobile application that would enable people, especially the young customers.

"During discussions, Sriram, MD of the National Banking Group, suggested that we should also aim to have a marketplace and not only an app," she writes.

Sriram was MD (National Banking Group) between July 2014 to November 2015.

"On consideration, I thought his idea to be absolutely on point and so the scope was expanded. We wanted to have an application that would enable our customers to seamlessly conduct banking as well as allow them to do all other activities, such as shopping, booking shows, surfing, connecting to social media platforms --that is, doing everything through a single application. and thus 'you Only Need one,' or YONO was born," writes Bhattacharya in her book.

Rajnish Kumar took over as MD (National Banking Group) from Sriram in November 2015. He was looking after YONO when Bhattacharya was chairperson. "YONO was expected to be launched in early 2107, but on account of implementation delays, it was actually launched a month after I retired, in October 2107, by my successor Rajnish Kumar--which in a way was fitting, for in his then capacity as the head of the National Banking Group for the past year, he had been heading the YONO implementation committee, "writes Bhattacharya.

Kumar, who has written a memoir titled 'The Custodian of Trust - A Banker's Memoir', also gave a detailed account of the YONO's birth. Kumar was SBI's chairman for three years till October 2020

In his book, Kumar writes that "after taking over as MD ( National Banking Group), I started wondering if we were underestimating the transformational potential of YONO. The bank then decided to invite a number of consultants and external thinkers to make presentations to identify the potential objectives for Project Lotus."

"While all the presentations provided rich insights, one of them, in particular, stood out-this was the presentation by McKinsey & Co, which incorporated three key elements, comprehensively suggesting what SBI could do differently from other banks in projecting itself as a digital icon," details Kumar.

McKinsey's presentation had set Kumar thinking hard and deep. "It was increasingly becoming clear to me that we had to do something remarkably different from the run-of-the-mill apps to catapult SBI as a leader in the digital space as well," writes Kumar.

He adds that it was not easy to convince the senior management team of the bank to go for such a massive transformational change. 

"My dreams for taking the bank to new heights were, however, dampened by the over-cautious members of the bank's top team, who were full of scepticism about the success of an advanced digital application promoted by a bank that catered to all classes of society, including those with limited digital literacy," writes Kumar.

"There were several intense debates on the topic in the bank-the discussions culminated with an obvious question from the bank's Chairperson, Arundhati Bhattacharya: 'Are you sure we are not taking on too much?'" he recounts.

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