BFSI sector embracing digital-first mindset to excel: Raphael T J, CIO, South Indian Bank

Raphael T J

The banking sector, in more ways than one is the backbone of the Indian economy and any innovations in the sector eventually ends up impacting most other sectors in one way or the other. With a digital-first mindset, the entire industry is embracing digitalization across the board, though each organization could be at different stages of digital maturity depending on their business priorities, says Raphael T J, CIO, South Indian Bank, in conversation with Anupama Mehra of Elets News Network (ENN).

Raphael T J

  1. How are emerging technologies reshaping Indian banking?

 In today’s digital milieu, emerging technologies like chatbots, AI/ML, Autonomous IT and blockchain are transforming the BFSI industry in unimaginable ways.

Two key business areas where these technologies are increasingly being deployed are:

 (a) Enhanced customer engagement and customer self-service enablement:

  1. AI-powered chatbots are being used to address queries, thus significantly reducing the need for a dedicated bank employee, who can be redeployed for non-mundane tasks.
  2. Customers can now interact with banks using their preferred and convenient channel, whether it is social media platforms like Facebook, Whatsapp or utilizing voice banking through virtual assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant

(b) Improve operational efficiencies:

  1. AI/ML, RPA are helping banks (especially mid-sized) automate routine and mundane tasks more effectively.
  2. Analytics is also being utilized to extract better insights on operational aspects and improve process efficiencies. These emerging technologies are paving the way of bringing the majority of the unbanked into the formal banking ambit, giving a boost to the Government’s vision of accelerating financial inclusion in India.

    2. What are Indian banks doing to digital-proof their business?

We believe the banking sector, in more ways than one, is the backbone of the Indian economy, and any innovations in our sector eventually end up impacting most other sectors in one way or the other. BFSI industry has been one of the early adopters of modern technologies in India.

Today, banks have enabled: voice authentication in phone banking, intelligent chatbots to provide their digital consumers an extraordinary banking experience, ML-powered smart targeting algorithms that personalize promotional offers real-time to consumers, AI-based applications used for a range of functions like KYC compliance, cross-border payments, trade finance and smart contracts, so on and so forth.

In addition to younger customers, traditional senior customers are also increasingly utilizing digital banking services. Digital service offerings need to measure up to these customer expectations. With a digital-first mindset, the entire industry is embracing digitalization across the board, though each organization could be at different stages of digital maturity depending on their business priorities.

  1. Can you share details on your digital journey? How have your customers benefited?

Technology has played a big role in our success journey. Being a technology-focused bank; we are constantly assessing and refreshing our digital offerings in sync with customer behaviour. We already are playing in most contemporary digital avenues, viz. Net Banking, Mobile Banking, ATMs, Cards & digital payment solutions. With a customer-centric focus, we’re constantly evaluating newer technologies and identifying new use cases via proof of concept (PoCs) as well as collaborating with new-age FinTech players to make banking more intuitive and enriching for our customers.

  1. Tell us about SIB’s innovation roadmap and your partnership with Oracle.

We constantly focus on innovating at every step of a customer’s banking lifecycle. Our priority starts and ends with providing ease and convenience to our customers and unmatched banking experience. We have introduced innovative solutions like e-lock, which empowers customers with secure access to their account(s) via a single click! With e-lock, the key to your accounts is secure in your hands. We have a long-standing partnership with Oracle. The latest Oracle cloud technology we’re using is the Oracle Digital Assistant (ODA), an AI-powered intelligent conversational-AI service to streamline queries and requests made to the helpdesk.

 By deploying this, the number of daily calls to our helpdesk have reduced significantly, leading to better employee productivity and satisfaction, as they need not focus on managing the mundane. The query resolution time has come down dramatically. This is just one of the many examples of our successful collaboration with Oracle.

  1. What’s your take on autonomous technologies, such as Oracle’s Autonomous Database?

AI/ML-powered autonomous technologies and RPA can bring about game-changing operational efficiencies to our industry. Oracle has been one of the leaders in the cloud technologies space and their modern and enterprise-grade cloud technologies have great potential. The Oracle Autonomous Database appears to be very exciting.

With Oracle’s Gen 2 Cloud region now available in India, we’ll look forward to exploring how we can take advantage of Oracle Autonomous Database as well as their modern cloud service suite.

  1. Can you outline SIB’s game plan to drive faster financial inclusion, especially in rural India?

We currently have a solution for financial inclusion to address needs of customers in rural India. The solution utilizes handheld devices with biometric and AePS (Aadhaar Enabled Payment System). Business Correspondents (BCs) can perform On-us and Off-us transactions of any Indian citizen whose Aadhar is linked to the bank account. We’ll continue to identify and explore other long-term, sustainable ways to drive faster financial inclusion in sub-urban and rural India.

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