Interview

AU Small Finance Bank — Progressing Towards Financial Inclusion

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Ashish Gopal Saxena, Chief Technology Officer, AU Small Finance Bank

The economy is changing, so are the banking and the financial services in India. AU Small Finance Bank being the only Non-Banking Finance Company (NBFC) to have received the license for setting up a small Finance Bank from the Reserve Bank of India sets up an example among other financial entities, says Ashish Gopal Saxena, Chief Technology Officer, AU Small Finance Bank, in conversation with Rashi Aditi Ghosh of Elets News Network (ENN).

AU Financiers has recently converted itself from a Non-Banking Finance Company (NBFC) to a Small Finance Bank, what technological changes have the brand undergone post its transition?

On 19 August, 2015, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) kicked off some transformative changes in the financial system of the country by giving licenses to 11 Payments Banks and 10 small financial banks. The main aim of this initiative was to bring the unbanked section of the society under the periphery of the formal banking system.

As soon we received the license, we knew that we will have to start the entire banking operation afresh.

With Small Finance Banks the Central Government wanted to expand the access to financial services in rural and semi-urban areas. These banks have the power to function almost like a normal commercial bank, but at a much smaller scale. It can offer basic banking services, accept deposits and lend to underserved sections of customers, including small business units, small and marginal farmers, micro and small industries, and even entities in the unorganised sector.

Official statistics suggest that 28 per cent (Census 2011) of Indian population has access to the internet, how challenging is ensuring smooth banking services in such a scenario?

In India, there are ample challenges and opportunities.With Small Finance Banks reaching the unbanked was our main motive.We, therefore, laid out a strong distributor network so that we can reach the areas with low internet connectivity.

Before selecting an area of business, we carefully study the society and the people.This helps us in meeting the needs and demands.

The core of society is based on multiple factors that enhance the ability of a brand to spread the network. We make optimum use of it.

Instances like demonetisation and banking data breach have inflicted new threats in the banking domain. Kindly share your expert views for ensuring curb to the menace.

As a financial entity the need to understand the changing dynamics of the economy is important.We keep a regular tap on threats that arise due to rising digitisation. Several services like internet banking and mobile banking which play a pivotal part in the digital banking era are at a risk of malware infestation.

In addition to this, we also focus on various areas like rural banking, Financial Inclusion etc. With changing times, we are ready with our innovations.

Small Finance Banks are changing the outlook of banking in India, what innovations is your company ensuring in realising this transformation?

The Central Government initiated the concept of Small Finance Banks with a motive to reach the unbanked. When we along with other 10 financial entities received liscence from the Reserve Bank of India, we knew that the central bank could see our potential to excel. We were the only NBFC so that suggests we must have had shown some potential through our hard work and dedication.

We are very thankful to the regulator for giving us this golden opportunity.

We have planned several innovations and digital solutions for our customers that we will unveil in future. We are setting up several technological advancements that will make banking an easy task for our customers and thus assisting us in meeting the customer needs efficiently.

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