Manappuram Finance future-ready to capitalise on modern technologies

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Puneet Kaur KohliGetting digital-ready and be quickly adaptable to digital transformation hold key to the progress of Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) sector, says Puneet Kaur Kohli, Group Chief Technology Officer, Manappuram Finance, a leading gold loan NBFC, in an interaction with Ahmad Shariq Khan of Elets News Network (ENN).

You recently joined Manappuram Finance as Group Chief Technology Officer (CTO), would you share how has been your experience?

Certainly, working as Group CTO at Manappuram Finance has so far been a challenging yet an enjoyable stint. Right from its early days, Manappuram Finance knew the power of IT in transforming its core conventional business i.e. dealing in gold loans. That’s the reason why I believe it has always been such an IT-driven company. Today, apart from having the conventional gold loan plans, we also deal in digital gold loan, and it’s where my role comes into the play.

My job responsibilities here entail supporting the Manappuram Finance actualise its various IT objectives envisioned by the company, these include not just formulating a robust and forward-looking IT /digital policy but executing it appropriately too. Besides it includes taking care of company’s IT infrastructure, keeping it future-ready and safe against any security threat.

Manappuram Finance has always been an early adopter of industry-leading technologies. How are you making the best use of your expertise in taking forward this legacy?

Right from its early days, unlike its competition, Manappuram Finance has been an early adopter of industry-leading technologies. That’s the reason you see, it developed its own proprietary solutions which has been one of its USPs too so far. Building upon my experience spanning more than two decades, (further, armed with my MBA in telecom and finance sector), I believe I am well-suited and equipped to contribute to the realisation of various goals of Manappuram Finance.

Thus, apart from taking care of the mandate given here, I am taking a pragmatic approach in exploring the various ways in which futuristic technology paradigms such as robotics, chatbots, Master data management, anti-money laundering, anti-fraud management tools and adaptive technologies can be best employed to serve organisation’s various business interests.

As your near-term priorities include e-KYC, transitioning the ERP on cloud, adoption of analytics for customer centricity, mobility initiatives and creating a single view of the customer, what is the roadmap envisioned to actualise such objectives?

As a player active in online lending, our roadmap is quite clear. Right from shortrun, I have set my eyes upon achieving certain objectives in the two-three years for Manappuram Finance. Certainly, for now, e-KYC, transitioning the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) on cloud, adoption of analytics for customer centricity, mobility initiatives and creating a single view of the customer remain our key priorities. Besides, I am gearing up for strengthening our entire automation process, revamping of the IT architecture, mobile-user experience, facilitating a better- yet-secure B2B/ B2C customer experience, thereby contributing to value-chain in the entire ecosystem – and integrating all this into the common production database in order to arrive at a single view of our customers. So you see a lot of things are work-in-process and many more are in the offing.

While going about executing the digital transformation of the gold loan, could you tell us the main challenge you face in terms of dealing with newer technologies?

 Yes, the digital transformation of the gold loan NBFC is one high-priority project for us. While executing it, cyber security in terms of e-transactions, e-payments, cyber laws and its compliance remain the key concern areas I would like to cite here.

How do you perceive the readiness of Indian firms with regard to upcoming technologies such as blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI) etc? Are we well prepared to jump on the bandwagon or risk being left out in any way?

No, in my view, we are not fully ready to best capitalise on the vast opportunities these newer technologies offer to us. But going forward, certainly, the awareness has to be created on how best to employ these technologies and get the best out of them. On regulatory front too, things and processes need to be relaxed a bit.

We need to be geared up for this. The need of the hour is to understand what kind of customers are we segmenting and what methodology are we adopting to achieve this because that holds the key to the success of the entire plan.

How do you see the role of women in NBFC sector, do you think the sector is empowering them suitably? What is your message to them?

I believe NBFC sector is empowering the women suitably. See, if I am here, that’s a testimony of the fact that the sector is very much pro-women. Its upto you how you prove your worth and make your own mark in the sector. Just as in any other sector, it boils down to an individual’s own caliber, potential and desire to succeed.

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