Murali Rao, Chief Technology Officer, DCB Bank LimitedV

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. Murali Rao, Chief Technology Officer, DCB Bank Limited, 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?

Information and communications technology (ICT)/digital solutions are an integral part of solution evolution. India has over 750 million smartphone users and the penetration of smartphones in rural areas has been increasing. The pandemic has accelerated the provision of services over digital platforms at a pace that many organisations were not prepared for. The BFSI sector in India has been quite progressive and the regulator has been providing some of the key platforms such as UPI and AADHAR. UPI enabled/created a complete payment ecosystem and made it possible to move forward into a cashless economy. It is interesting to know that over 3 billon transactions happen over different UPI platforms and this has happened in just a period of five years. A key element that has now become a norm is availability of cashless, no-touch, 24×7 self-services.

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

Digital solutions can be broadly classified into the following five categories:

  • Onboarding/Acquisition of customers/ relationship
  • Cashless financial transaction services
  • Self-service availability for all non-financial services
  • Personalisation
  • Secured and quicker TAT

Most of the organisations were focused on providing services around financial transactions using UPI/IMPS/NEFT/ RTGS, etc. Changes in regulation and the enablement of VKYC helped in creating products and services associated with customer acquisition. And the pandemic gave an excellent opportunity to digitalise many non-financial services which were otherwise part of branch operations.

We, at the DCB Bank, have looked at the pandemic as a great opportunity and have quickly adapted to the situation. We have implemented VKYC for customer acquisition and also reimagined customer journey of our flagship product ZIPPI to ac­quire new customers and build relationships over a complete digital journey. This has given our salesforce and customers better ability to create a new relationship without the need to visit a branch. We are also working with multiple fintech partners, co-lending partners in devising products with our API platforms, which can be consumed to create part/complete customer journey of acquisition, servicing and relationship management.

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

New-age technologies such as AI, block­chain and cloud have significant impact/ contribution in digitalising many processes. With the ecosystem enabling multiple non-bank players and availability of innovative products, scale of operations is one of the key areas that requires additional focus. Cloud-native applications and the adoption of cloud helps in getting the necessary elasticity to manage spike in volumes seam­le­ssly. Also, it helps create a continuous deve­lopment/integration pipeline so that one can create the necessary product releases with shorter cycles so as to improve customer experience.
Similarly, automation, coupled with AI, is becoming part of many operations. Pro­cess automation is helping us in creating processes that can be established to de­li­ver services across disparate/legacy sy­stems, whi­ch otherwise is a manual/broken pro­cess. Cognitive AI is helping us automate part of the decision tree management, which not only helps in creating personalised user experience but also in creating upsell/cross sell opportunities based on user behaviour or by analysing transaction patterns. It is also helping ban­ks in identifying and acting on fraudulent transactions thereby providing a secure platform to our customers.

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

All opportunities have challenges. Like­wise, each of these solutions and new-age technologies have their own challenges. Some of the key challenges are:

  • Skilled and adaptable human talents
  • Data security
  • Reconciliation

New technologies need a fresh th­ou­ght and skills that are not available. Know­­ledge management and upskilling existing talents are the biggest challenges one needs to work on. It is important to ensure that IT teams are put on a learning path of unlearn/learn new technologies while creating a digital workforce. Right-skilled talents are key in the journey of digitalisation.

Data security is another key area of concern in this era of digitalisation. Data needs to be secured in all three layers such as data in motion, data at rest and data in use. Data security should be part of the key design principles while designing or deve­lo­ping any new service/solution. DevSecOps (development, security and operations) is something that we need to adopt so that security is part

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

In our view, the following are some of the key trends that would shape the BFSI sector:
• Mobile first – Smartphone penetration and now with 4G/5G availability, most of the services are expected to be widely available
• Personalisation – With the introduction of UPI, eKYC, Aadhaar, API interfaces, Account Aggregators, etc., it is important to be part of the ecosystem and use these services to create a unique and personalised user experience
• Cloud native – The adoption of cloud and cloud-native products is going to see an uptake. This is essential to offer scale and agility while offering digital platforms
• RPA and AI – Process automation and the usage of AI/ML are key to not only pro­vide faster SLA/TAT but also to manage risks/fraud.