Srikanth Mopidevi Managing Director and Chief Information Officer, DBS Bank India

The Indian banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector has made significant advancements in recent years, witnessing an accelerated pace of digital transformation. Enterprises across the sector are leveraging futuristic technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), blockchain, cloud and data analytics to streamline customer services and mitigate business risks. Industry players share their views on how these technologies are reshaping the BFSI space in India, the implementation challenges and the future outlook…

What role is technology playing in the BFSI industry? What are the key solutions adopted by your organisation?

At DBS, we use technology to reimagine banking, put the customers at the core of our offerings and enable them to “live more bank less”.

Our mobile banking application, digi­bank by DBS, delivers a paperless, intelligent and intuitive experience across all re­tail banking transactions. It provides a ho­st of digital-first features, including 24×7 live chat for daily banking needs and end-to-end wealth management solutions, do­mestic and international remittance op­tio­ns, and a clutter-free digital loan app­roval and repayment process. DBS enables customers to complete their digital KYC via a video-based customer identification pro­ce­ss. DBS Bank is dialling up efforts to­war­ds digitalising financing capabilities offered through trade platforms, potentially benefitting more than 15,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across Asia by the end of 2022.

The bank launched Super Card with Bajaj Finance to create an end-to-end digital experience and proposition for a large customer franchise. One example of using technology for good was when DBS Bank India partnered with client Stellapps (provider of end-to-end dairy technology solutions) to provide greater access to digital solutions to dairies, thereby helping the movement towards zero food waste. The bank launched real-time online tracking for cross-border collections for SMEs in India in collaboration with SWIFT Global Payments Innovation (gpi). DBS is the first bank in India and Asia-Pacific to offer this service to clients, which benefits close to 4,000 corporate and SME clients in India, with numbers expected to grow further. DBS Bank India partnered with ODeX to introduce ODeX Pay Later So­lu­tions to provide hassle-free credit solu­ti­o­ns to freight forwarders

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

AI and ML have multiple use cases and can optimise banking operations such as prevention of frauds, development of suitable product recommendations and automation of customer service through chatbots. They also offer a high level of accuracy in validating credit risk models that determine a bank’s profitability.

With blockchain-based banking, the payment process has improved and, more importantly, has become accurate. It has also helped reduce transactional costs and led to the development of new banking products and services that could yield new revenue lines. Cloud technology has made it easier for banks to respond to changing customer requirements, scale up their com­puting resources in tune with custo­mer needs, and improve their bank revenu­es, client service and overall efficiency, ap­art from reducing operating costs. Mobile banking technologies have also become es­s­ential due to the increased use of mobile wallets for digital payments, mo­bile biometrics, peer-to-peer payments and voice-based searches. With RPA, banks can now create pre-programmed processes and reduce their administrative costs by 50 per cent while still enhancing the quality and agility of the banking process.

How will the growing adoption of metaverse influence the way banks engage with their customers, deliver services and launch new products in the BFSI sector?

The metaverse, touted to be the future of banking, will provide customers with a hassle-free and customised banking experience. Banks can use virtual reality to ma­ke a digital financial town where the customers can experience a virtual branch with a financial playground and a telecommuting centre for staff. Customers walking in the virtual branch will be able to in­teract with content and a real-life agent th­rough a video call. It can also simulate virtual client interactions like cash transactions from virtual ATMs. Through metaverse, banks can also lend and insure ag­ainst virtual currency, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and virtual real estate in the burgeoning metaverse economy.

What are the possible impediments and security threats while deploying these technologies? How do you plan to address these?

At DBS, our efforts are focused on making our banking processes fool-proof. AI/ML models aid banks in discovering patterns efficiently, revealing anomalies, generating insights, making predictions and moving towards automated decision-making. To be­ef up our security measu­res, we rely on the “zero trust” concept, whi­ch assumes th­at no user, workload, device or network can be trusted. Valida­tion should be necessary for every access request on all available data points, inclu­ding user identity, device, location and other variables. This trust only is effectively safeguarded with a zero-trust se­cu­rity approach. Pairing cybersecurity with automated KYC systems would protect customers and all stakeholders from bugs within the system.

What will be the future technology trends re­shaping the BFSI industry?

The Covid-19 pandemic posed significant challenges for the BFSI industry, placing their technology architecture, strategy and workforces under tremendous pressure. We recognised this gap and expedited our efforts to minimise disruptions, deliver ba­n­­king seamlessly, reimagine the custo­mer journey and use data to drive decisi­on-ma­king and improve processes. Some of the critical future technology trends reshaping the BFSI industry are:

  • AI technology combined with the hu­man element will help better serve customer requirements and provide urgent solutions. AI-driven chatbots can converse just like humans and respond to customer queries intelligently.
  • To combat financial fraud, banks can en­able the use of AI/ML to map possible threats.
  • Banks increasingly use blockchain technology to undertake risk management practices, making it difficult for hackers to extract confidential information.
  • RPA would aid decision-making efficiency and improve automation capabilities.
  • Another focus area is big data, which he­l­ps in building trust and enhancing cy­bersecurity. It would also decentralise voluminous and unstructured data, easing operational processes for the staff.

Recently, DBS partnered with Sandbox to demonstrate how the metaverse can be used as a force for good. Under the partnership, DBS will acquire a 3×3 plot of LAND – a unit of virtual real estate in The Sandbox metaverse – which will be developed with immersive elements. We also look forward to harnessing it as an additional innovative platform to spread the word on important environmental, social and governmental issues and to shine a spotlight on communities and partners doing good work to address them.