Early warning system to rein in NPAs

An automated Early Warning System has been put in place for early identification of probable NPAs, along with reasons for slippages, which is quite useful for effective monitoring of standard assets and also for arresting fresh slippages, says P V Bharathi Managing Director & CEO, Corporation Bank, in conversation with Elets News Network (ENN).

Smt P V Bharati

You have been part of Canara Bank earlier. How challenging is it to be associated with Corporation Bank now?

I consider a career in Banking as one of the most challenging and exciting assignments. We are in a highly competitive market place, wherein several players operate. This makes the entire working climate more challenging as well as inspiring. As far as Corporation Bank is concerned, I have joined the Bank on February 1, 2019. More than a challenge, I cherish this opportunity given to me, to head this prestigious institution, which has a glorious history of over 113 years to its credit. The bank’s name has got its value and respect in the banking industry. The bank’s creativity, pro-activeness, and adaptability to the challenges, over the years, are unparalleled. It is considered a trendsetter and a highly innovative bank in the comity of the Indian banking industry.

What new deployments the bank has made in terms of technology? And how it is helping the bank in controlling the NPAs?

The bank has taken several initiatives in the recent past to improve the monitoring of accounts and to avoid further slippages. An automated Early Warning System has been put in place for early identification of probable NPAs, along with reasons for slippages, which is quite useful for effective monitoring of standard assets and also for arresting fresh slippages.

We are now going in for an Upgraded Early Warning Software, which is expected to be put in place in the current financial year. Further, we have also launched an Online One Time Settlement Portal (OTS) to expedite the sanction of compromise proposals. Sanction / Rejection / Request to improve the OTS offer is communicated to the borrower through SMS and e-mails. This initiative has resulted in expediting the sanction of compromise proposals. Apart from this, close follow-up is being made with the borrowers through SMS, informing the due date and the installment amount.

If the amount is not paid on the due date, repeated SMS are sent to the borrowers informing the need to service the installment in time to protect their Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited (CIBIL) score.

How do you perceive the readiness of the Indian banking sector about technologies such as Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

The basic pre-requisite of adopting Blockchain by banks is the readiness of all banks for a collaborative model. The need, therefore, will be to bring all the banks together, along with a Third Party Technology service provider for building up the required infrastructure. This will be a long-drawn process considering that each bank has to go through their internal process and legal approvals, wherever required.

AI is bound to penetrate the banking space in a larger way. Many banks have embarked on AI because of the benefits it brings. However, it will be a long time before Indian banks can realise the full benefits of AI . It is very important to see what AI does and how it fits into our strategy rather than just embarking on things, we keep hearing on every day. Data/information has a large role today. AI is all about how effectively the organisation uses the data/ information, which is available within the organisation and also in the public domain, for giving meaningful insights and decision making support. Similarly, customers will also be delighted, if the banks can use the AI-driven information to offer them something meaningful.

How do you see the role of women in the Banking sector? Do you think the sector is empowering them suitably?

The nationalisation of the Indian banking sector in 1969 served as the first major step to reduce gender discrimination against women in banking jobs. Subsequently, the initiating of economic reforms has created new windows of opportunities for women to find employment in the banking sector. According to me, banking requires sound instinct and intellectual capabilities to analyse a business, in which women are no lesser than men. At times, women tend to be more responsible, more structured, and more careful about money. Women are also seen as being patient, considerate and temperamentally balanced. Thus they can make sound judgments. Our bank is having a good representation of women employees in all cadres.

The Bank has 5,887 women employees as on May 31, 2019, out of total staff strength of 18,798 making up 32 percent of the total. In Officer Cadre, the representation of women employees is 28 percent and in Clerical Cadre it is 36 percent. On our Board, which is the highest decision and policy framing body, we have two women directors, including myself. As on date, our Bank has 15 all-women branches across the country; 320 women are heading branches at various levels, and three zones are headed by women executives. The Bank has been providing women employees with effective counseling and support to help them to grow in their careers.

What are the prime challenges and opportunities for the Indian Banking sector?

Banking has changed considerably in the last couple of decades. The heightened competition and the dynamic macro-economic environment has made banking a different ball game altogether. Volatility is the new normal and the banks need to build up capabilities to adapt to this changing macroeconomic environment and to look for opportunities within the uncertainties.

Today, the prime challenge for the banks would be to maintain the quality of assets and resolution of stressed assets. This is going to be crucial for sustaining profitability levels and for ensuring the sound fundamentals of the banking sector. Meeting the regulatory capital requirement, reforming the talent system, enhancing the skill sets for specialised areas, developing comprehensive cybersecurity and fraud risk management controls and above all, taking steps to meet the rising competition and changing customer behaviour are some of the important areas the banking sector needs to immediately focus upon. As far as the opportunities are concerned, banks are taking significant steps towards digitalisation and are driving technology-enabled banking.

The mobile-based payments are revolutionising the payment landscape in the country. Also, the launch of digital platforms viz psbloansin59minutes.com, TReDS, Udyamimitra, etc. are helping to drive digital lending. The green shoots in the economy, including better growth prospects, lower inflation, lower fiscal deficit and above all, a continuation of strong policy measures by the government are expected to improve business sentiments. We are hopeful that the government will continue its focus on accomplishing the work-in-progress agenda through policy action and reforms to give further the impetus to the growth momentum.

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