Federal Bank is leading the way in digital banking by embracing a digital-first philosophy that emphasises the importance of digital touchpoints while still maintaining a human element. Their mobile banking platform offers conversational banking in multiple regional languages, and their Digital Center of Excellence is responsible for driving digital initiatives across the bank.
Digital Banking journey
To consolidate all digital initiatives under one umbrella, the bank established the ‘Digital Center of Excellence’ in 2016. This department is responsible for driving digital initiatives across various areas of the bank – from channels and merchant acquiring to India’s payment ecosystem and beyond. They’ve also introduced Digital Banking Ambassadors and Digital Angels to ensure digital efforts touch everyone in the bank. Recognizing that the journey doesn’t end there, Federal Bank continues to prioritise digital transformation in the financial sector industry. With this multilayered approach, Federal Bank aims to be at the forefront of the digital transformation journey.
In an exclusive interview with Sumoth C, Vice President and Head of Digital Banking, Federal Bank, the bank’s digital journey was outlined. Sumoth explained how the bank’s branch model has changed and how 90% of all transactions now occur through digital channels such as mobile banking, net banking, and WhatsApp. Branch personnel now focus more on providing banking and financial advice to customers rather than just transactional services. FedMobile App, the bank’s mobile banking platform, currently handles 1 crore transactions per month.
While Federal Bank has traditionally maintained a branch-led distribution model over the last five years, it has expanded its distribution channels across geographies, utilising relationship managers and “feet on street” strategies. However, with the success of digital channels, the bank is considering opening new branches in select locations to offer customers both physical and online services. Federal Bank continues to prioritise its digital journey and expand its digital offerings.
Working closely with Fintech players
The bank recognises the important role that fintech players have played in the financial industry and sees them as collaborators rather than competitors. With this in mind, the bank has created an API stack that offers over 300 APIs through a sandbox environment for fintech partners to consume. These APIs range from basic services such as CASA account opening, credit card partners, and loan account opening to other banking products. The API gateway is a secured environment and partners have their own secure pipe through which they connect to the ecosystem.
Another key focus for the bank is monitoring and increasing the number of transactions that occur through digital channels. “We have created a self-service portal called Fed e Point, which offers non-financial transaction services such as requesting a cheque book, KYC update, and PAN. This has reduced the entire TAT for non-financial transactions from a few days to just a couple of hours,” Sumoth adds.
Customer support through AI powered Virtual Assistant ‘Feddy’
In addition, the bank has introduced an AI powered Virtual Assistant called Feddy which integrates multiple channels, including website and WhatsApp. It is interesting to note that Federal bank is the first to introduce Feddy through the Google business messenger. “Feddy has already automated more than 65-70% of routine queries that were previously handled by the call center, allowing customers to quickly and easily access information at any time. The bank is now in the process of expanding the services offered by Freddie to become an all-encompassing digital assistant for a customer’s needs,” Sumoth shares.
In order to ensure customers receive prompt and satisfactory responses to their queries, the bank seamlessly hands off complicated requests to live agents while still ensuring a smooth chat experience. This level of support ensures that customers are never left unanswered and are often unaware of whether they are interacting with a chatbot or physical agent. The bank is always evaluating ways to improve their processes and provide an even better customer experience.
Similarly, the bank has taken steps to cater to a wider audience by integrating multiple languages into their mobile banking platform – currently English, Hindi and Malayalam. Through these integrated languages, the bank is working to cover the geographic diversity of the country by providing conversational banking in several regional languages. The bank is also collaborating with the RBI innovation hub to extend these language offerings further.
Working closely with RBI Innovation hub for digital projects
Federal Bank has partnered with state governments and the RBI Innovation Hub on the latest digital initiatives. The bank is one of the 13 pilot banks selected to complete initial testing of the e-RUPI digital currency in 26 selected cities along with a group of merchants. Federal Bank believes that this project will revolutionize the banking landscape and is excited to collaborate with the regulator and other banks to drive the shift towards digital banking.
Compared to other traditional banks, Federal Bank has made significant strides in digital transformation. With its branch model undergoing significant changes and 90% of transactions occurring through digital channels like FedMobile App and Feddy, Federal Bank has prioritised its digital journey. The bank is always evaluating ways to improve its processes and customer experiences. By integrating multiple languages into its mobile banking platform and collaborating with RBI, Federal Bank is staying competitive and continuing to innovate in the digital banking space.
For learning more about the bank’s initiatives and vision for the future, stay tuned for an exclusive video interview with the Sumoth C, Vice President and Head-Digital, Federal Bank