Coop Banks Serve Grassroots Better

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Use of technology in cooperative banks have not only helped boost customer engagement but also elevate bottomlines of the banks, Rahil Patel, Chief Information Officer, Kalupur Commercial Cooperative Bank, says in an interview with Sneha Mejari of Elets News Network (ENN)

Give us your perspective about the impact of technological advancements on the Cooperative Banking sector.

rahil-patel
Rahil Patel
 Chief Information Officer, Kalupur Commercial Cooperative Bank

Advancements in technology have transformed Cooperative banking enabling the sector to provide many channels for customer service, customer attainment and retention, which were previously catered only through branch banking. Technological advancements have, thus, not only helped elevate the customer engagement but also elevate the bottom lines of the banks.

Commercial banks are running a scheme to open zero-balance accounts in the financially excluded sectors and offering facilities like Mobile ATMs. Where do cooperative banks stand in this respect?

It is essential for the banks to provide financial services to the unbanked citizens, and cooperative sector in general had evolved on this very premise. We are serving the sections of the society that need upliftment. The ongoing drive to open zero-balance accounts by commercial banks is good for the poor/rural citizens of the country, as it facilitates disbursement of various government aids directly into the beneficiaries’ accounts. But, it is also equally important to offer other complementary financial services to these citizens, so that it creates opportunities for them to grow and become financially secure, which would otherwise not be possible. This is where cooperative sector shines, as the financial institutions working at the grassroots are close to these individuals, be it farmers, labourers or tradesmen. The cooperative sector understands their requirements best and serves them accordingly.

How difficult or easy is it to maintain the hardware and software employed by the cooperative banks on account of use of technology?

Hardware/software per say is not a challenge; instead, finding good, skilled resources is a big challenge and even if a bank is able to find/recruit the needed talent, retaining them becomes an even bigger challenge. This human resource dependency makes hardware/software maintenance a real challenge.

With banking fast shifting to internet and mobile phones, do you think security is emerging as a challenge?

kalupur-bankSecurity is always a concern, as banks deal with financial information of its customers, who may or may not be tech savvy. The sophistication of intruders is much higher, with impact more disturbing for customers who are adopting these new electronic channels of banking. Of equal importance is preparedness of bank’s technology-handling employees, who need to proactively respond to everchanging threat perceptions to such channels.

What are the IT initiatives you are looking to implement in the Kalupur Commercial Cooperative Bank?

Banking in general has become commoditised. We are, therefore, looking at initiatives that can earn a different name to our brand, help us capture new sources of revenue and de-risk competition from new players while enhancing customer interaction.

Business of banking is transforming at a pace like never before – banks that embrace meaningful customercentric technology will see sustained growth and profits

What challenges do you face in convincing your customers for IT adoption?

Customers have preconceived notions while banking with a cooperative bank, and breaking them away from their notions is the toughest challenge we face.

Where do you think technology will take the cooperative banking sector in the next five years?

Business of banking is transforming at a pace like never before – banks that embrace meaningful customer-centric technology will see sustained growth and profits. My opinion is that technology will no longer remain an option; rather it will become a necessity for cooperative banks to stay in business in the next five years.

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