India being a cost-sensitive market the two factors that play a major role while availing home loan are Rate of Interest (ROI) and how soon the loan can be disbursed, says Kunal Dikshit, CTO, Reliance Home Finance Ltd, in conversation with Elets News Network (ENN).
How significant is the role of a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in a financial institution as compared to other C-Suite officers?
A CTO’s role is constantly evolving in today’s world. Long gone are the days when technology used to be a support function. Technology is now working in close coordination with businesses and driving growth with well-defined responsibilities of ensuring Return on Investment (ROI) on the investment made.
The responsibility of a CTO includes:
- Identifying the right technology components to enable business revenue growth and fulfill company needs.
- Information and data
- Adhering to regulatory and compliance requirements. For example, Reliance Home Finance (RHF) is governed by NHB guidelines.
- Responsible for preparing a technology roadmap
The profile allows the CTO to act as a trusted advisor to CEO and align the company goals to the strategic technology initiatives. It’s the CTO’s responsibility to evaluate the new technology initiatives and its impact on the company. The role gives one the authority to decide on new products to be used along with the budgetary decisions. It’s the CTO’s responsibility that technology function comes to the forefront and enables the business to fulfill the company’s objectives, thus ensuring a much more intelligent organisation.
Home finance is a popular segment and in India, it caters to a large section of people. What measures do you take to enable digital engagement with your client base?
India being a cost-sensitive market the two factors that play a major role while availing home loan are rate of interest (ROI) and how soon the loan can be disbursed. Technology and innovation are playing a key role in fulfilling the aspirations of a large number of Indians wanting access to credit and being a financial services provider.
At Reliance Home Finance, we make it our prime duty to understand the consumer’s perspective and needs.
Reliance Home Finance’s digital lending platform has drastically reduced the turnaround time in home loan sanction from 4-5 days to 7 minutes. This has helped in better customer service and satisfaction index and has also taken the brand to newer heights. Further, we have a state-of-the-art website that is user-friendly as it enables customers to understand the loan products in a simpler manner.
All efforts are carried out via a call center, branch network, SMS and emails to make our customers more aware of our digital offerings.
In a country that is still chasing Financial inclusion, how can you ensure housing for all and easy loan access?
As per industry reports, there was a shortage of close to 2 crore housing units over the period 2012–17. Of these, the housing for economically weaker sections alone accounted for more than 50 percent. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) is a promising scheme which is expected to solve the housing shortage in the country. More than 65 lakh houses have been approved so far for construction under the PMAY (U).
The government is on course to sanction one crore houses well before 2020 to ensure that construction activities are completed to provide housing for a larger section of the society by 2022. Reliance Home Finance has an important role to play in realising the target of this scheme and is working overtime to ensure that every Indian gets his/her dream house. Our focus is clearly on the “affordable housing” segment and this has become a win-win situation for all parties concerned the economically weaker section of the society, the government, and RHF.
Tell us about the new technology deployments in the company.
Technology no longer is just an enabler but has become the “driver” of the business initiatives, thereby ensuring increased revenues or reduced cost by improving efficiencies. Focus on digital initiatives ensures better end customer experience by ensuring ease of doing business. Systems are in place to assist the internal workforce to seamlessly close deals and provide the best support to the customers. Following initiatives have been undertaken by us in terms of technology:
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is covering the automation of updating ‘Pending Customer Documents’ in the loan lifecycle. The RPA BOT does a maker-checker and uploads the details and updates status of the documents received in the core loan management system, basis excels inputs prepared by the operations department. Improvement of the process in terms of notifications/ reminders is also in the plan. Secondly, the automation of the ‘Purchase Order Generation’ process and auto-execution of mail to the respective vendor.
Another area in which we see the value has been added is the automation of the ‘Customer Issue / Feedback’ process. Mail sent by the customer is auto allocated to the team and recorded in the system and an incident number is generated. The auto-reply is sent back to the customer along with the incident details.
2. Models are getting more and more developed with the availability of data and are getting used in not only helping us in customer acquisition but also reducing the delinquency
3. Technology is also integrating “WhatsApp” for business for communicating with the customers.
4. Digital lending platform has been developed and RHF aims to sanction a home loan within 7 minutes. The customer has an option to either use his Aadhaar number or PAN and system is integrated with third-party entities and tools like the bureau, de -duplication engine, and statement analyser to instantly calculate the creditworthiness of the customer and generate the sanction letter which then gets mailed to the registered mail ID.
5. The mobile app is used by both feet- on-street (for instant credit decisions and sourcing) and collections field force (for payment collection).
How has been 2019 for the company so far? What can we expect to see?
The year 2019 has no doubt been challenging with the general liquidity crunch in the market and the slow credit offtake due to rising interest.
We at RHF firmly believe that this is a temporary blip and things should stabilise sooner rather than later. Completion of events like the General Elections would also play a big role in improving the general sentiments in the market.
New offerings that one can hope to be delivered is the launch of Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning-based chatbots which would be more next-gen as compared to most of the current ones which are mostly glorified Interactive Voice Responses (IVRs).
Chatbots would be able to handle the local language-based questions and be intelligent enough to help the customer to fill up the loan disbursal form. Automation of most of the repetitive mundane tasks is also very high on the agenda.