Today’s Banks, Tomorrow’s Technology Disrupters

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India’s youthful, tech-savvy and highly connected population has high expectations and is placing huge demands on our banking systems. Twinned with the move towards demonetisation and the government’s push for a less cash economy, we’re heading toward a banking revolution, writes Subash Nambiar, Vice-President –Cloud Platform, Oracle India, for Elets News Network (ENN).

A revolution in the making

Technology is already powering a new generation of FinTech startups who are challenging traditional public sector banks. Accounting for 70 per cent market share, to stay relevant, these banks must transform into more than providers of financial products and services.

Subash Nambiar, Vice-President - Cloud Platform, Oracle India
Subash Nambiar, Vice-President – Cloud Platform, Oracle India

Customer experience is the  key

While earlier digitisation efforts focused on streamlining business and back-end operations, adding efficiencies and cutting costs, this next generation of transformation is centered on customer experience. Banks recognise the key to staying competitive in today’s fickle and fast-paced digital market is to know their customers’ needs and expectations.

Banks are experimenting with payment services that make electronic transactions faster and simpler, apps that reduce tedious paper-based transactions to a few clicks, AI-powered chatbots to help customers answer questions and provide information faster than humans can.

Data, powering change

Central to this reinvention is an understanding and use of data to bring together many of the recent disruptive technologies: big data, analytics, cloud technology, artificial intelligence (AI), IoT, blockchain and even robotics.

Why? Traditional banks hold a big advantage with the overwhelming amount of data they have. Being able to harness and then generate maximum value from the mountain of data collected offers these big banks the opportunity to be at the forefront of the digital revolution and help them discover deeper insights into what customers need and want.

Bricks and mortar innovation – from city centre to rural branch

These innovations are not restricted to just digital or online banking. Technology is also being used in-branch to make customer visits as smooth and efficient as possible. Big data is powering customer hubshelping bank staff to provide more concierge type services, and it may not be that long before a robot will greet you at the door to guide you to the right staff member, who is already prepared with your customer information.

Innovation also extends out into rural India. Spurred by the government’s Digital India campaign to connect all of India with a broadband highway, banks are using technology to support the agenda for inclusive growth. Cloud and mobile, in particular, are helping to ease the cost and hurdles of reaching far-flung rural customers who otherwise would have no access to financial services.

Cloud first

Underpinning much of this transformation are cloud solutions. Where legacy banking systems often meant over-provisioning infrastructure so that it had the power to handle quarter end spikes, now cloud-based technologies allow just-in-time expansion of IT infrastructure. This translates into huge cost savings and means bursting capacity is no longer a cumbersome process — it can be done in a matter of minutes. So if a new branch is opened in a rural area, it has immediate access to the same cloud-based infrastructure that the well-established urban branches do.

What will innovation look like in the near future?

As data pools grow to levels beyond human understanding, AI will certainly become a pervasive part of banking and FinTech. It will become an essential part of providing expert customer service, and fraud management using techniques like facial recognition, bio-metrics and pattern evaluation. Blockchain technology, pioneered by Bitcoin, has exciting possibilities in fraud and identity management.

Virtual Reality (VR) is also being researched as a way of providing a more immersive experience when it comes to financial management, without having to go into a branch.

Embracing cloud, starting to harness some of the newer technology areas and a pioneering mindset will be essential to help banks successfully navigate and thrive in these exciting and often tumultuous digital markets.