Navigating Challenges, Building Advantages a Journey through Digital Transformation

Ganesh Ananthanarayanan

The Bank is the largest micro cash player in the country, collaborating with more than 3,000 corporate partners, spanning small businesses, large industries, and institutions, shared Ganesh Ananthanarayanan, Chief Operating Officer, Airtel Payments Bank in an exclusive interaction with Srajan Agarwal of Elets News Network (ENN)

With your extensive experience in leadership positions across diverse sectors, including financial services, telecom, and FMCG, how has this diverse background shaped your approach in leading the consumer products, customer service, and distribution functions at Airtel Payments Bank?

My experience across sectors has greatly influenced my approach to lead consumer products, customer service, and distribution at Airtel Payments Bank. It has provided me with a holistic perspective, allowing me to blend trustbuilding, innovation, and operational efficiency to enhance customer experiences and optimise service delivery.

Could you share the key strategies and challenges involved in the bank’s digital transformation journey, and how this transformation has improved customer experiences and service delivery? Could you share some insights into the bank’s approach to building a strong competitive advantage, acquiring new customers, and retaining existing ones in this dynamic and challenging environment?

Airtel Payments Bank started its journey in 2017 with a vision to empower India with accessible and inclusive banking. Since inception, the bank has adopted a paperless approach and served the nation digitally. The Bank has built a unique digital-first model and deep distribution to serve consumers.

Over the years, the Bank has successfully addressed the financial and digital inclusion needs of tens of millions of customers across the country, while maintaining a strong focus on customer satisfaction. We have pronged our business into three segments to serve the customers and businesses across the geography the Urban Digital Consumer, the Rural Underbanked, and Industries & Businesses.

We cater to the Urban Digital Consumer in metros and Tier 1 and 2 cities with a suite of safe, simple and rewarding digital banking, & payment solutions through Airtel Thanks app. With instant account opening, the Rewards123 savings program, and Safe Pay – the safest way to make payments, the Bank offers a comprehensive end-to-end digital banking solution. As the only Bank globally with an added layer of payment authentication, Safe Pay is preferred by over 1 Mn customers for secure transactions. We have recently introduced customised plans, which allow our savings bank account users to get additional benefits like insurance on an annual basis. Airtel Payments Bank now processes over 7 billion annualised transactions across its platforms, making it the fastest-growing digital bank.

For the underbanked rural population in Tier III and beyond villages, we are making banking services easily accessible through our extensive network of over half a million banking points, which is the country’s largest banking network. Today we serve one in five villages in the country.

The Bank is the largest micro cash player in the country, collaborating with more than 3,000 corporate partners, spanning small businesses, large industries, and institutions. The Bank is mobilising its deep distribution and technology to resolve the last-mile cash digitisation challenge.

The Bank has been rapidly growing with a 38 per cent CAGR on revenues over the last five years. For the FY ended March 2023, Airtel Payments Bank revenues grew to INR 1,291 cr, with profits of INR 21.7 cr. The Bank now has 54.7 mn monthly transacting users. Today, Airtel Payments Bank is the only profitable multisegment fintech operating at scale with a banking license in the country.

According to you, how does Airtel Payments Bank stay ahead of the curve when it comes to adopting new technologies and ensuring seamless and secure digital banking experiences for its customers?

We have always had the end consumer at the heart as we inch closer to our vision of making banking accessible and inclusive. We have a talented team of product and engineering experts who work tirelessly to bring our vision to life.

They are always working with new technologies and ideas to create innovative solutions that will enhance the overall banking experience for our customers. Our team is constantly developing deep insights and using them to create products that solve real customer problems. We have also invested significantly in AI/ML technologies to ensure our systems are robust and capable of delivering personalised banking experiences to our customers.

As Airtel Payments Bank continues to expand its footprint in the digital banking space, what are some upcoming innovative services or features that customers can look forward to in the near future, and how do you envision these offerings will enhance the overall banking experience?

Airtel Payments Bank is continuously expanding its range of innovative banking solutions. The upcoming DigiBank interface for our app is set to revolutionise the digital banking experience with a strong focus on safety and simplicity. We are dedicated to taking the banking experience in the country to new heights.

To cater to our rural customers, we have just introduced our eco-friendly debit card, which will be conveniently available at our select banking points by the end of this quarter. This move aims to provide greater accessibility and financial convenience to those residing in remote areas.

Also Read | Customer First, Technology Next: Bajaj Allianz’s Winning Approach to Digital Transformation in Insurance

For our valued corporate partners, we are further enriching our suite of cash management services by introducing the Digital Collection Service. This service empowers our partners to efficiently collect recurring payments digitally and even send timely reminders to their customers, enhancing their business operations and customer relationships.

Overall, our relentless efforts are geared towards delivering cutting-edge solutions, enabling seamless digital banking, and fostering financial growth for all our customers and partners alike.

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