Federal Bank: Making systems resistant for zero-day attacks

Our plan is at two levels – hardening our systems and educating our customers and employees. We make use of the latest in security tech, to make sure that our systems are fool-proof and resistant to zero-day attacks, says Shalini Warrier, Chief Operating Officer and Business Head – Retail, Federal Bank, in conversation with Elets News Network (ENN).

What digital strategy are you planning to implement to enhance the client experience?

Our overarching strategy for customer delight, also a part of our mission statement, is of being ‘Digital at the Fore, Human at the Core’. It is the central theme around which all our customer service strategies are built. We continually invest in digital technologies at the front end and in our operational areas; however, we complement that, with a strong focus on relationship management. Our digital strategy focuses on digital innovation in two key areas – customer experience and operational excellence. We aim to enhance customer experience by leveraging latest technologies like Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Blockchain etc. to deliver the most anticipated, consistent experience across platforms, and to enhance our last-mile delivery by making use of technology and partnering with Fintechs alike.

Ensuring ease and convenience of use by customers and making it intuitive for customers – these are just some of the themes we focus on while designing products for our customers. One example of this is the recently launched FedAlert application. This application enables customers to receive notification from the Bank (whether for transaction advice or for OTP purposes) via the application connected with the Internet, thereby making them less dependent on the telecom service provider.

With operational excellence, we achieve both customer delight and enhanced control and compliance in our processes. Using technologies like Robotic process automation (RPA), chatbots, etc. we are enhancing our Turn Around Time (TAT) on all internal and customer-facing services, and at the same time mitigating operational risks by minimising delays and errors.

As per RBI reports, the number of cases of fraud has increased in the past few years. What steps are you planning to take to reduce such cases in your bank?

With more services being offered thanks to advanced technology, the facets of customer service or customer touchpoints have increased manifold. The surface area vulnerable to fraud also therefore increased. A downside of tech is that we inherit its fallacies along with its benefits. For fraudsters with easy access to the latest yet cheapest tech, it has become easier to increase both their reach and the scope of exploits.

Mitigating the risk of fraud is a central theme of our digital strategy and we have been continually investing in this area. Our plan is at two levels – hardening our systems and educating our customers and employees. We make use of the latest in security tech to make sure that our systems are fool-proof and resistant to zero-day attacks. Also, all our internal and customer-facing systems are regularly audited for vulnerabilities and fixed if any are applied on priority. On the education front, we work closely with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the government and other authorities to educate customers, increasing financial literacy and awareness on the modus operandi of various frauds. This helps us to address the issue at its core. We also train our staff extensively, through internal initiatives and also via an external specialised programme, to make sure we leave very little to fraudulent entities to exploit.

Why banking mints the most women C-Suite officers in India?

Banking is one of the most organised industries in India. Service conditions are well defined, controlled and monitored.

This leaves very little scope for the Glass Ceiling effect to make a significant impact. Anybody that has the skills and the inclination to succeed at large has equal opportunity to make it to the top. Being a service industry, banking also utilises the inherent characteristics of women more effectively – the ability to relate and empathise with customers. Once women reach the top and prove their mettle, it triggers a domino effect – it inspires more young women to come out and knock on the doors of opportunity, and at the same time also enhances the system’s confidence in women leadership. It is a win-win for all.

The financial sector today is facing an extreme liquidity crisis. What steps do you think government/ regulators need to take to improve it?

The government and the regulators, I believe, are taking adequate steps to ease the liquidity crunch. The latest rate cuts by the Central Bank and increased efforts to reach out to stakeholders by both Government of India and RBI stand testimony. There were a few unfortunate incidents and general FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) that have triggered a chain reaction with repercussions in the entire industry. However, the Indian Banking, Financial Services and Insurance sector are fundamentally sound and this crunch is just a passing storm.

What new products and services are you planning to launch in the next five years?

We have already been at the forefront of launching new products, like Blockchain-enabled remittances. We have many exciting launches lined up in the coming years. Initially, we would be launching enhanced, currently relevant versions of our existing services – Mobile Banking, Internet Banking, etc. – bundled with microservices that we believe will set new benchmarks in the industry. We are also exploring innovative solutions leveraging technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Natural Language Processing (NLP), Machine Learning, Digital Assistant Banking, Intelligent & Integrated Support Systems, Smart Wealth Management and Advisory Solutions, to name a few

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