Digital at the Fore, Human at the core, Our Motto at Federal Bank: Shalini Warrier, Executive Director, Federal Bank

All the important banking features offered By Federal Bank that are required by our customers are digitised. We ensure that our customers don’t face any problem in maintaining their accounts. Today, around 80 percent of our transactions are already done digitally, and infact during the pandemic, we have seen an increase in that percentage also. Our motto had always been “Digital at the fore, Human at the Core”. Apart from this, we also have a digital side dedicated to the employees who are either coming to the branches or working from home, says Shalini Warrier, Executive Director, Federal Bank, in conversation with Elets News Network (ENN).

Shalini Warrier

1. What are your views on COVID-19 Regulatory Package schemes? How will they benefit your customers?

That’s a very relevant question in today’s scenario. Based on what RBI has done it is based on two pillars.

The first pillar is to ensure greater liquidity for banks and therefore RBI has taken a range of measures such as CRR reduction, providing long term funds for Banks, and several other initiatives. All this is done to bring more liquidity into the system. This is very important for banks because, in the absence of liquidity, banks will not be able to lend.  This is majorly contributed through term deposits.

At Federal Bank, we are definitely aligned with RBI’s move. Having said that, we have a very good deposit base. Over 90 percent of our deposits are retail deposits, therefore they are granular in nature. They are sustainable and have long term relationships with us.

In addition to this, keeping the current situation in mind and for helping the customers, RBI had also announced three months moratorium which was later extended. As we all know that due to the lockdown the economic activity and the cash flow are deeply impacted and customers’ ability to repay the loans is under pressure.

So, RBI‘s initiatives with respect to the liquidity both for the banks and the customers are well appreciated. The regulator’s role in this context is pivotal because the situation that we are facing due to the Covid-19 pandemic is very evolving. Every day new challenges are emerging and therefore RBI will also evolve according to the changing situation.

2. How you see a $5 trillion economy vision now and how the banking sector will contribute to this?

The 5 trillion economy goal has motivated the country and all the sectors of the economy including the banking sector. Recognizing the current environment, accomplishing the task immediately looks challenging. But the question is when will the 5 trillion economy happen? A couple of years extension in reaching the target will not make much difference in a country like India. 5 trillion economy vision is the right vision for the country.

The banking sector is the backbone of the economy and it plays a major role not just in regulating the economy but also getting up to the target of 5 trillion economy.

It is commendable how the banking sector is helping the customers in meeting their financial requirements amid the Covid-19 by opening up their branches. While the healthcare professionals are helping in the containment of the virus, we are keeping are branches open to making sure that the customers don’t face any problem in continuing their transactions. In addition, we are also helping our customers in salary disbursements and other important commitments through digital banking modes.

Also Read: Centre’s GeM portal inks MoU with Federal Bank

3. Technology has now become the much-needed part of the banking sector. How the Federal Bank is planning to digitise its services?  

We can very proudly state that all the important banking features that are required by our customers are digitised. We ensure that our customers don’t face any problem in maintaining their accounts. We have always been at the forefront in introducing new and innovative technologies whether it is the first digital passbook. Today, around 80 percent of our transactions are already done digitally, and in fact during the pandemic, we have seen an increase in that percentage also.

We have customized solutions based on the category of the customer. Our motto had always been “Digital at the fore, Human at the Core”. Apart from this, we also have a digital side dedicated to the employees who are either coming to the branches or working from home. We are therefore ensuring good internet connectivity for our employees who are working from home.  We are using Microsoft Teams for video conferencing and it is very secure as it adheres to all security norms.

All our meetings are done through Teams so that our productivity is not lost.

4.  What major challenges are you coming across while technology deployments?

I would rather call them opportunities. Firstly, spreading awareness amongst our customers pertaining to the capabilities we hold is a pivotal task. We have to keep reaching out to our customers and educating them regarding the innovative solutions we offer and guiding them about the usage.

Secondly, growing concerns regarding the cybersecurity aspect is an opportunity. A lot of people, during this pandemic, are worried about cybersecurity and a lot has been written in media on how cyber frauds are carried out during this pandemic. So, we ensure that all our customers and their transactions are safe with us.

Thirdly, we as an organisation have to innovate and stay agile especially on the digital front. The customer actually expects out digital platforms to be as convenient as the food ordering apps or as simple as Google. There is an opportunity here for banks on how to ensure the same level of convenience to the customers when they use your mobile application and other digital products, and services without evading the security aspect. So, an easy to use service that is secure as well as the ideal combination desired for the banks.

5. How do you weigh the partnerships in banking? 

We believe that Fintech collaboration brings a lot of innovation to the team and we see them as the capability that we don’t have. They along with the partnership bring us access to the customers where we don’t have a reach. Fintech companies have a large virtual reach and access to a large section of customers. Federal Bank has been very much at the forefront in working with the Fintech companies, especially on the API platform on various product innovations.

Today we have more than 80-100 APIs. In association with Fintech, we offer two very innovative solutions. If a customer is using Google Pay, he has an option to avail a loan, if he is in our pre-approved base. In association with PineLabs, we offer an option of converting a payment into EMI instantly during the time of purchase. These two are a part of the several offerings that we ensure in association with Fintechs.

6. What are your future policies & strategies? Are you planning to implement any new strategy or product?

Our next area of innovation would be in areas like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Machine Learning, Blockchain, Cloud, and others.  We have already started working on Blockchain and Robotics.

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