Banking The ‘Digital’ Way

Deepak Sharma, , Executive Vice President & Head – Digital Initiatives, Kotak Mahindra Bank
Deepak Sharma, , Executive Vice President & Head – Digital Initiatives, Kotak Mahindra Bank
Deepak Sharma, , Executive Vice President & Head – Digital Initiatives, Kotak Mahindra Bank

Kotak Mahindra Bank is offering a wide range of one-of-its-kind digital solutions like Jifi, KayPay, Bharat App, etc that can solve problems of customers and enhance their banking experience, says Deepak Sharma, Executive Vice President & Head – Digital Initiatives, Kotak Mahindra Bank, in an interaction with Arpit Gupta of Elets News Network (ENN)

What are your key responsibilities as the Head of Digital Initiatives for Kotak Mahindra Bank?

As the Head of Digital Initiatives, I look after digital transformation, digital channel, mobile banking, internet banking and app, digital marketing, product, innovation and new payment solution. Digital touches every single aspect of Kotak, horizontally. We use digital platform as the tool and technology to meet our objectives at business level, customer level or backend operation level. We look forward how can we blend technology to create superior customer experience or acquire more customers or reduce the cost of transactions.

What are the new technologies and platforms Kotak offering to its customers?

We have seen a rapid rise in online banking. About 40 per cent of our existing bank customers are using online banking. In the last 18 months, we have launched many innovative products, which have helped in bringing more customers to Kotak fold. Last year, we have launched Jifi which is a new age digital and social account that offers anytime access and on-the-go transactions. We are the first to foray into social and digital banking. With Jifi, it will be easy to recharge mobile, DTH via Twitter, etc.

We have also launched Jifi Saver, a social savings bank account which can be seamlessly managed through Twitter and Facebook. It is a completely online account, with unique features like rewards, social connect, etc.

We are the first bank using Twitter for banking called Hashtag Banking. It provides basic services to customers including inquiry for balance, last few transactions, chequebook demand, among the total of 21 services under the name Hashtag Banking (#banking).

We have also launched Social Commerce product integrating social media banking with e-commerce that allows customers to buy books or book movie tickets using Hashtag Banking, without even entering any payment details or address, etc. Our Social Commerce journey is in sync with our customers’ changing lifestyle and preferences. We will certainly add more dimensions to e-commerce transactions via Twitter.

When it comes to social banking, Kotak Mahindra Bank has many firsts to its credit. How successful have the digital banking products been?

We have launched KayPay, the world’s first bank agnostic payment product for Facebook users to send money to each other in an instant (24X7). This revolutionary app lets a person transfer money from any bank by simply using the Facebook ID, Google+ ID, email ID and Mobile No of the recipient. For the first time ever, millions of bank account holders can now transfer money to each other at any hour of the day or night, without using net banking, or knowing various bank account related details of the payee.

KayPay enables over 250 million Indian bank account holders from over 27 different banks to transfer funds to each other instantly by just choosing recipients from their Facebook friends list. KayPay offers a safe and secure platform to transact on the social networking site through a two-level authentication – Facebook user ID and password, and One Time Password (OTP). Further, both sender and receiver immediately receive notifications about the transfer, via SMS and on Facebook.

We have launched offline multilingual mobile banking app ‘Kotak Bharat’ which requires no internet connectivity. It is an inclusive digital banking philosophy, where the common man from under-banked and unbanked regions can be benefited from mobile banking in his/her preferred language. Through this app, we are the first bank in India to enable fund transfer without internet connectivity and without adding beneficiary. This encourages cashless transactions by enabling customers to transfer up to Rs 2,500 per day and at a time. The process of funds transfer is simple and totally secure as the transaction can only be initiated from customer’s registered mobile number. Further, customer gets a confirmation SMS on the registered mobile number, which is encrypted, and hence cannot be tampered. Kotak Bharat also enables customers to manage their savings and current accounts as well as credit cards.

What are the major challenges in implementing IT initiatives in Tier II and Tier III cities? How is technology expanding the banking sector in India?

Language and data connectivity are major problems in small towns and remote areas. Keeping in mind the requirement of customers belonging to Tier II & III cities, we looked at creating an app which can work offline and doesn’t have language constraint. The concept of ‘Kotak Bharat’ mobile banking app is very unique. It doesn’t require data connectivity and the choice of language is also available as people mostly prefer to communicate in their local language. It is currently available in Hindi, English, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil and Kannada, and will soon be released in other Indian languages.

How do you ensure security of transactions?

Security remains the first and foremost priority for the banks as they are the custodians of customers’ money. We ensure that the entire interaction between the customers and bank is encrypted. We follow a two-way authentication process to check the transactions. Keeping this in mind, we launched a device authentication app. Every time a customer uses a mobile app, we authenticate the device. This itself acts as the first factor authentication. In addition, we have a risk management system to track the customer’s location and device details. we believe that innovation is not just about features but also about security.

What are your future plans?

We always focus on solving the problems of our existing customers rather than just looking at the innovation for the sake of doing it. We have recently tied up with Google and launched a mobile store to integrate e-commerce with the mobile app. As customers are increasingly going on e-commerce websites to shop, we are working with over 100 large e-commerce merchants like Flipkart, Snapdeal, Myntra, Jabong, eBay, Amazon, Localbanya, Bigbasket, Ekstop and the others, to create a Kotak Reward Portal.

We will be integrating with companies to offer shopping, entertainment, dining, payment solution, banking and other services. The whole idea is to make mobile app a ‘one stop shop’.

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