Gururaj Rao, Chief Information Officer, Mahindra Finance

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. Gururaj Rao, Chief Information Officer, Mahindra Finance talks about the various digital tools being adopted by Mahindra Finance in current times…

How has ICT transformed the BFSI sector in recent times?

ICT has been responsible for driving a large set of changes in the BFSI sector.

  • The BFSI sector has been transformed into an ecosystem from the earlier set of independent players. The set-up of services for know your customer (KYC), credit underwriting, payment transactions and security registration have all been integrated into the organisations. Application program interface (API)-based architecture is responsible for this advancement. New technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA) have enhanced process efficiencies.
  • Customer-centricity has been enhanced through the use of omnichannel experiences, personalisation and contextualisation tools, campaign management, etc. Multilingual and voice-based user interface (UI) capabilities are also driving big improvements in customer satisfaction.
  • Data analytics solutions enable tapping into various data sources, structured and unstructured. Decision-making has been transformed through the use of machine learning (ML) algorithms. Cloud technologies enable rapid deployment and flexible scaling of IT infrastructure.
  • Cybersecurity tools, fraud analytics and forensics solutions have improved the safety and viability of the financial services industry.

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?

  • Covid-19 has enhanced the use of collaboration tools to a large extent. Discussions in groups ranging from just a few people to dozens of participants are taking place remotely. Formal events such as board meetings, annual general meetings of shareholders, audits, etc. are happening on remote platforms.
  • Our organisation has been a field-based organisation, with a large branch network spread across the interiors of the country. Therefore, our solutions have been designed taking into consideration internet-based access, poor infrastructure, etc.
  • Our solutions have offline capabilities, which are available even in connectivity blind spots, and they can keep employees productive in the field. Our VPN-based access and security framework enables our systems to be accessed securely by employees, customers and other intermediaries.

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

  • We have deployed enterprise platforms such as an enterprise service bus (ESB) to manage integration of various systems and to enable end-to-end automation of processes.
  • RPA helps automate some critical business processes.
  • Mobility-based solutions help improve efficiency in the field. Customer channels include a mobile app, a web portal and a contact centre, and these contribute towards a superior customer experience.

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?

  • We are perhaps one of the very few organisations in India to have deployed blockchain. Our supply chain financing platform is run on blockchain technology and it enables suppliers, buyers and financiers to transact with each other.
  • We are constantly scanning the environment for new technologies and are interested in experimenting with some of them. For example, we are keenly watching the developments in natural language processing and audio-based UI.
  • While deploying any new technology, it is necessary to forecast its useful life. It is also essential to assess the risks associated with the technology, the availability of skills and interoperability with other existing technologies.