Gururaj Rao, Chief Information Officer, Mahindra Finance

Enterprises in the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) industry have been early adopters of information and communication technology (ICT) solutions, which have enabled them to digitise their operations and make them more efficient. The government’s demonetisation move has provided a further impetus to the digitisation initiatives. However, since enterprises in the BFSI space deal with confidential consumer data, ensuring data security while using ICT solutions is of paramount importance. IT heads of leading BFSI enterprises discuss their IT strategies, technology trends, the impact of demonetisation on everyday operations and the level of cybersecurity readiness in the industry…

What are the key IT and telecom solutions dep­loyed by your organisation? How have these helped in improving business performance?

The key IT and telecom solutions deployed by Mahindra Finance include offline data capturing solutions; software support systems; loan management systems; portals for distributors and customers; solutions for support functions such as legal, finance, treasury and human resource; enterprise platforms for CRM; and mobile applications.

These solutions are based on the needs of our customers and help us to enforce business strategies, monitor asset quality and ensure regulatory compliances.

What has been the impact of demonetisation and the push towards a cashless economy on your IT needs?

While Mahindra Finance offers a gamut of payment channels for its borrowers and investors, a significant portion of the loan re­payments in the rural and semi-urban areas is received in cash. However, after de­monetisation, we have been receiving more payments through our website and other digital channels. To this end, the company has introduced various payment channels such as immediate payment service, e-wallets and card payments. We are also creating awareness regarding the digital modes of payment among our rural customers.

What is the scope of big data analytics, cloud and internet of things (IoT) in the BFSI industry? What are your plans for deploying these technologies? 

Big data analytics is essential for organisations to leverage unstructured data and derive business outcomes such as formulating new target customer segments, designing products, managing asset quality and achieving customer satisfaction. Therefore, big data analytics can become a source of external data registration for our customers and cloud technology can be used to develop a scalable infrastructure for experimenting with latest solutions on a service basis. However, IoT may currently not be very relevant for our business.

What are the key challenges faced while implementing new technologies?

The key challenges are as follows:

  • The probability of the success or failure of the new technology.
  • Security risks pertaining to the use of new technology.
  • Long-term viability of the technology.
  • Customers’ acceptance of the technology.
  • Cost of replacing the existing technology (applications/devices) in the system.

What are your views on the cybersecurity readiness amongst BFSI companies in India? How do you ensure the security of your customers’ data?

The increased usage of online processes and technologies results in service disruption and loss of data. Therefore, cybersecurity is very critical especially for the BFSI sector. To this end, Mahindra Finan­ce has a dedicated security team to handle the information security needs of the organisation. We have implemented various security solutions at the network, perimeter and application levels. Role-based access control and cryptographic controls have been implemented to prevent any compromise of customer and business information.

“We are creating awareness regarding digital modes of payment among our rural customers.” Gururaj Rao

Going forward, what are the key IT and telecom trends that the BFSI industry is likely to witness?

The BFSI industry would witness the emergence of new technologies such as blockchain, AI and wearables. Further, the use of cloud computing, big data analytics and mobility is expected to increase. The speech-based user interface also holds enormous potential.