‘Technology, innovation defining new-age banking in India’

Remembering and safekeeping of password add to the discomforts for the older customers. So, we have developed visuals and WhatsApp video for a better understanding of the product as well as a process.  Use of QR code has made things little simpler, says Sheoji Ram Meena, General Manager (IT) & Chief Information Officer, Bank of India, in conversation with Elets News Network (ENN).

How important is the role of technology today for banks in India? Is it a good idea to embrace every piece of technology that has originated in the west?

Technology is important and essential part of the banking in India. The ever-changing landscape of banking transactions, speed, volume, and velocity and customer-centricity has changed the perception of banking. The transaction value has been replaced by the volume of transactions. Transaction value profitability has also become an old concept. Low transaction cost and high volume without a time limit are the most essential elements of the present banking business. Customer preference and delight on the fly of banking services are the most desired features.

Human resources have certain limitations and technology helps to overcome such limitations by designing the product, process as well as the insight of service offered and availed. Product may be designed and made available without any human engagement 24*7. Thumb rule of process not only enables the machine learning but also speeds up the process at a fraction of cost. Insight capability of Artificial Intelligence (AI) replaces human intelligence to a great extent by having predictions based on incomplete and insufficient information or understanding natural languages or visionary impressions.

Availability of personalised product based on customer preference is very easy with the help of cognitive technology. Embracing every piece of technology is not advisable at all in view of the following: 1. Technology process needs to be customer friendly and cost-effective to remain competitive in the market. The easy process will help in faster and mass adoption, creating space for new entrants or making the existing play agile. 2. Before adopting any technology, suitable infrastructure is required to be reviewed as a prerequisite to avoid operational inefficiencies and bottlenecks. 3. Availability of suitable cost-effective continuous support from OEM to ensure safety and security of the product or process.

Bank of India is one of the leading Public Sector Banks. What challenges do you face in competing with private lenders in terms of tech-implementations?

 Bank of India is part of the old generation public sector bank which has the following issues while adopting the technology and competing with private lenders:

A) Legacy issues where certain processes were maintained manually or in electronic ledger only. Where migration of the process as well as the adoption of the new process by the older generation staff and customer are very slow.

B) Data cleaning and incomplete data migrated at the time of adoption of computerisation at the first stage.

C) Time-consuming Request For Proposal (RFP) process delays the procurement resulting in slow adoption and implementation of innovative technology product and processes. At times the eligibility criteria for bidder’s works as twin edge weapon in the process. If the eligibility is relaxed or liberal than quality is subject to compromise or failure to implement by the successful bidder may impact productivity. Very high eligibility criteria make the product very costly and uncompetitive as the start-ups having capacity and capability fails to meet the other eligibility norms resulting in non-participation in the process.

  1. D) No budget or negligible budget for startups put at disadvantage and makes the product less cost-effective.
  2. E) Old customers are not very comfortable with the new technology-based products so the old public sector banks have kept the product and services for the old customers who are unwilling to move on to the new processes at the first stage and without hand-holding in the second stage.

What measures are you taking to boost the usage of digital banking amongst older customers?

Acceptance of Digital Banking among the old customer has many challenges and most common is unwillingness as well as fear of unknown. Cyber risk and digital frauds add to the reasons for non-acceptance of the new technology-based products. Remembering and safekeeping of password also add to the discomforts of older customers.  We have developed visuals and What’s App video for better understanding the product as well as process.

Such videos are available on our website, Facebook page or Twitter handle. Use of QR code has made the things little simpler as a scan and password makes the transaction complete and successful. We also arrange customer-meet for older customers to provide suitable understanding of the technology-based products. With the increased use of smartphones, we observe that gradually the older customers are moving towards technology-based products.

How do you see the role of government in promoting digital banking in India? What more could be done in this regard?

 Government has multiple pronged agenda to promote and support digital banking. Directives are in place to make the digital banking more common, convenient and cost-effective. Online acceptance of payment by government departments, PSU’s and various service providers are the fruits of the government initiatives. Mandatory online payment of taxes including Income tax and Goods and Services Tax (GST) confirms the targeted move of the government. Fixing limits and providing multiple options of digital payment is the sign of role in promoting digital banking.

Further, providing incentives to the users and subsidies, the cost for some infrastructure equipment’s government is playing a leading role to make digital India dream to come true. The challenges vary in the journey which may be broadly classified in three categories a) Infrastructure b) Regulatory c) User awareness and education. Present infrastructure is not sufficient and capable to hand the increasing and expected volume of transactions. Network availability, stability and suitability are a cause of concern at all times and levels. With the introduction of digital transactions we have moved beyond the boundaries of state and operational area of a particular authority including law enforcement. So, we have to change the rules and regulations, to control the offences and crimes related to digital banking transactions. Faster resolution of grievances and refund of failed or fraudulent transactions is the requirement of the hour to develop faith in the digital system and process. Government and Reserve Bank of India is required to reassess the requirement to make the users comfortable and confident to have a safe, secure and trustworthy system.

Which technology as per your expertise will disrupt the present and build the future of the banking sector in the country?

The technology that is cost-effective, user-friendly, agile and compatible with any infrastructure irrespective of brand or configuration. Startups will have more roles to play followed by use and pay concept. This will help to develop a product at a lower cost with the faster processes and with an insight of the data for delight experience of the customer

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