Anjani Rathor, Chief Digital Officer, HDFC Bank

The banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) industry has been at the forefront of adopting next-generation technologies to optimise operations and enhance business efficiency. The outbreak of Covid-19 has further made the adoption of digital solutions a necessity for banks, to ensure business continuity and cater to their customers. Anjani Rathor, Chief Digital Officer, HDFC Bank talks about the various digital tools being adopted by HDFC Bank in current times…

How has ICT transformed the BFSI sector in recent times?

The trends seen in the BFSI sector with regard to ICT mirror the behaviour that customers display when it comes to leveraging technology. Today, a customer seeks convenience and an experience from a brand. It is no different in the BFSI sector. It’s a constantly changing landscape, where a brand first works on providing an experience to its existing customer base and then on tapping new markets and customer segments. Smartphone usage and 4G coverage in the country have also ensured deeper penetration in the erstwhile unbanked segment of the country, thus opening new unsaturated markets for harnessing growth.

What has been the impact of Covid-19 on the use of digital technologies in the BFSI space? How is your company dealing with the crisis?

The unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdown have hastened the need to evaluate and execute digital user journeys, which were previously viewed as “good to have” processes. We have, in fact, leveraged the situation to deploy and adopt an end-to-end digital and touchless banking experience for customers. Today, Agile Teams, comprising people from various functions in the bank, work together to drive innovation. One outcome of Agile Teams was that we were able to execute three major projects – instant a/c opening, biometric KYC and fixed deposit renewals – over a call, much faster. We were instantly able to adapt to the “new normal” and activate business continuity planning (BCP) for software and hardware infrastructure in order to enable remote functioning for most of our employees, and thus ensure smooth functioning of operations.

What are some of the key digital solutions you currently use to improve operational efficiency and enhance customer experience?

Using RPA, HDFC Bank has automated the data capturing process. Loan processing across all locations is now placed on a centralised server, where the loan processing status is visible in real time to all credit administrators. It allows the bank to allocate cases to credit managers based on the nature of each loan, location and eligibility. This has reduced the turnaround time for processing loan requests by up to 50 per cent, giving us the ability to service more customers, faster. One tangible benefit of RPA has been the improvement in productivity of data entry staff by 40 per cent and decision-making staff by up to 12 per cent. This has also minimised the scope for manual errors, resulting in better credit quality decisions. Similarly, we are using AI and ML interfaces to increase efficiency and reduce costs.

What are your views regarding the uptake of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT) and blockchain in the BFSI space? Do you currently use any of these technologies or plan to use them in the future?

Harnessing the potential of any technology is a continuous exercise at HDFC Bank. Technologies should enable us to enhance customers’ experience and provide convenience at the time and place of their choosing – this is the core philosophy we follow. The use of AI, ML, RPA and IoT in BFSI has made systems and processes efficient, both at the back end as well as in customer facing interfaces.

What are the key technology trends that will shape the BFSI sector in the next few years?

At the HDFC Bank, we are already working on technologies that will shape the BFSI sector in the future. We have an API banking team, which works on creating generic APIs/open APIs and publishes them to connect with fintechs, start-ups and other players in the financial services space. We are creating a collaborative ecosystem, which will ultimately benefit the customers, to provide better products and services to them. Using AI coupled with neurolinguistic programming, we are aiming to offer a high degree of personalisation to our customers.