Deepak Sharma, President and Chief Digital Officer, Kotak Mahindra Bank

The banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector has been seeing a rapid uptake of key digital technologies. Enterprises in this space are fast adopting new-age solutions such as blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT) and cloud in an effort to serve their customers better and improve business operations. The onset of the pandemic has further fuelled the digitalisation trend. While the adoption of new-age technologies has brought forth a host of benefits and opportunities for the BFSI sector, the process of deployment has been full of challenges. Deepak Sharma, President and Chief Digital Officer, Kotak Mahindra Bank, share his views on key tech trends dominating the BFSI space, the challenges in deployment and the way forward…

What is your view on the adoption of digital solutions in the BFSI sector? How have these solutions helped the sector in dealing with the Covid crisis?

The adoption of digital solutions is inc­rea­sing every day and the pandemic has significantly accelerated the process. These digital solutions have enabled the creation of contactless customer journeys that en­able customers to access/avail of a full ran­ ge of banking services from the convenience of their homes. This has helped us to meaningfully improve customer experience. Automation solutions have also im­proved productivity.

What are some of the key digital solutions currently deployed by your company? What have been the major benefits?

• We launched a zero-contact VKYC savings account that enables customers to open a full-fledged Kotak 811 savings ac­count in 10 minutes in a completely digital and paperless manner.
• Through Kotak Digi Home Loans, loan applicants can get an instant in-principle sanction of home loans. Home loan app­licants can check their loan amount eligibility and applicable interest rate im­mediately online and also receive an in-principle sanction letter instantly.
• DigiSign is a facility that offers custo­me­rs the ease and convenience to digita­lly sign and execute documents with the bank remotely in a zero-contact ma­nner. DigiSign has enabled a completely end-to-end paperless disbursement of MSMSE loans without any physical interaction.
• During the year, the new revamped Ko­tak net banking portal went live, adding to customer experience, personalisation and ease of discoverability of services.
• Robotics process automation and cognitive machine reading along with ma­­­­­c­hi­ne learning (ML) capabilities have been implemented, ensuring better contactless customer experience and risk-free transactions apart from business effi­ciencies of 2x year on year.
• Omnichannel service digitalisation of re­quests has helped customers to comp­lete their requests on their preferred cha­nnel without the need for a branch visit.
• Support for Hindi language in Keya to enable customer interactions in their na­tive language.

How are new-age technologies such as AI, blockchain, IoT and cloud transforming the BFSI space? What are some of the key use cases?

• AI has enabled multiple use cases – chatbots, personalisation, real-time alerts on potential frauds and automation.
• Blockchain has been leveraged in international remittances (for example, with Ripple) and trade finance (IBBIC).
• Cloud brings in flexibility in infrastructure provisioning, scaling up the infrastructure and increased availability of solutions.

What are some of the challenges faced while deploying these solutions?

Cloud adoption helps us to scale up digital solutions. We have adopted agile, devops (development and operations) practices to help us build and deploy solutions faster. For legacy infrastructure, we are addressing it through micro services architecture.

What will be the key digital trends that will shape the BFSI sector in future? 

• The focus would be on better understanding of customers and also on improving the overall digital banking experience
• Increased adoption of AI for real-time personalisation and automation
• Shift of applications workloads to cloud
• Open banking would enable collaborati­ons, and create new business models and revenue opportunities.
• Ecosystem models would drive the adoption of blockchain.