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Views of Sanjay Sharma, Head, Technology, Innovation and Customer Fulfillment, RBL Bank

May 06, 2015

Ratnakar Bank Limited (RBL), one of India’s fastest growing scheduled commercial banks, has been at the forefront of technology adoption and is keen to leverage the digital wave to transform operations. Sanjay Sharma, head, technology, innovation and customer fulfillment, RBL Bank, talks about how technology is helping BFSI players offer customers enhanced products and services…

What are the technology changes that are shaping the banking sector?

The banking sector has advanced a lot from 20 years ago, when the introduction of leased circuits had enabled banks to deliver anywhere banking services. Today, banks are running their telecom infrastructure on wireless networks, VSATs, leased lines, etc. There is growing adoption of technology. For example, the centralised core banking system (CBS) being used by the bank has now moved to the digital platform. The use of computing devices like mobiles and tablets, and the introduction of 3G and 4G technologies are enabling banks to reach out to a large section of customers.

What is RBL’s telecom and IT blueprint?

RBL uses wireless technologies to establish connectivity in areas that lack wireline connectivity. Similarly, to overcome challenges related to lack of bandwidth, the bank is betting big on desktop virtualisation. Going digital is also high on our agenda, and efforts are being made to give our customers a digital banking platform for different banking services across all channels. Recently, the bank introduced its mobile banking application, MoBank. We are continuously focusing on the digitisation of data and various delivery platforms such as ATMs. The bank is also spearheading digital initiatives in areas related to compliance, risk management, financial inclusion, workflow management and customer lifecycles.

How has telecom and IT helped banks enhance their business performance?

Technology has opened up different growth avenues for banks. For example, digital branches have helped banks extend their coverage and reach. Similarly, products and applications like digital wallets and mobile banking applications have allowed them to access their large customer base and encourage customers to go to play stores for making purchases and carrying out transactions, thereby enhancing revenues. Thus, technology has helped banks bring in operational efficiencies.

How has technology adoption helped RBL remain compliant with regulatory mandates?

The increasing volume of transactions and customer-facing communication has led to an increase in the regulatory compliance requirements of banks. The introduction of the new Basel norms has also made regulatory compliance by banks more stringent. Technology has improved internal efficiencies for the back office and the front office. Banks have also adopted various solutions like anti-money laundering, enterprise risk management, online fraud management, and automatic data flow to stay compliant, manage risks and enhance controls.

What are the challenges faced in implementing new technologies?

The biggest challenge is to ensure that the implementation cycle is kept short so that the technology does not become obsolete in a fast-evolving landscape. The new technology also has to be flexible and one that can be implemented across the ecosystem, covering the bank and its customers.

Are service providers equipped to meet the specific product needs of BFSI players?

Service providers have competent CBS products to meet the changing requirements of BFSI players. Original equipment manufacturers also have the capability to support the hardware product requirements of banks. However, there is a lack of products and applications for the enterprise segment across the device and solutions space. On the enterprise front, there is a time lag between the adoption of technology and its usage in India.

What are the likely big trends in the technology space for BFSI players?

The future of the BFSI industry is digital. The banking sector is moving towards an environment where customers can avail of all types of products and services through digital platforms. Digital technology is going to make virtual banks a reality. Earlier ATMs had changed the way cash transactions were carried out. Similarly now, mobility solutions are set to influence the way banks conduct business and help banks reach out to a larger number of customers. Moreover, big data and business intelligence technologies will be key focus areas for banks. As the e-commerce ecosystem grows, new business opportunities will emerge for banks as they will need to engage with different partners for providing financial services over the web. Application programming interface banking will change the way organisations interact with banks.

What are RBL’s plans for upgrading its telecom and IT infrastructure?

The bank’s telecom infrastructure is being upgraded constantly. It recently bought a mobility platform called WorkLite from IBM for driving mobility initiatives. We are also focused on exploring analytics to manage and analyse the huge amount of customer data we have, as this would help us offer them enhanced products and services. We also see a lot of opportunities in the payments and financial inclusion space.


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