We have a digital and mobile-first mindset: Sudesh Puthran, CTO, CreditAccess Grameen Limited

CreditAccess Grameen Limited (CA Grameen) is India’s largest microfinance institution, with a mission of balancing economic growth with social responsibility to effect lasting and meaningful change in the lives of its customers from the bottom of pyramid. Today, the company’s footprint spans across 14 states and 1 UT, powered by a network of 1,681+ branches with over 15,600+ employees, serving more than 36.8+ lakh customers.

Technology forms the backbone of the company’s operations, with the company equipping all field staff with handheld tabs, and taking proactive steps to enable paperless customer-onboarding and KYC processes, says Sudesh Puthran, Chief Technology Officer, CreditAccess Grameen Limited

Some edited excerpts:

Sudesh, you have been part of big financial services organizations. How different is the role of technology in a micro-finance institution such as CreditAccess Grameen Limited?
Micro-finance institutions like us deal with a large number of rural people. Hence, the technology has to be extremely easy to use and scale. The scale is also at a different level, as we do collections every week and process more than 60,000 to 70,000 loan applications a day. We have a digital and mobile-first mindset and all our loan officers are equipped with a TAB device. Most of our collection officers are not digitally literate, and hence, the systems have to be designed accordingly, as our collection volumes are almost 3-4 times that of loan applications. Overall we process approx. 1.2 million transaction a day on our Core Banking system. We also have to design our systems to be operated in an offline mode, as connectivity in many rural areas is negligible. Technology plays a vital role in all our operations, and hence, is not an option, but part of our DNA.

What are some of the customer-focused initiatives undertaken by CreditAccess Grameen Limited?
Today, all field staff is equipped with handheld tabs for managing Kendra meetings & collections. We have an automated/ paperless process of customer on-boarding leading to faster KYC and other checks. We have also geo-tagged our Kendra locations to optimize field visits. Technology enables us to do same day disbursement of loans across all group loan branches, applicable to non-income generating loans with a loan size less than Rs 15,000. Loan updates are provided to all customers through SMS messaging for status related to loan disbursement – NEFT status, bank account updates, repayments received etc.

We have also introduced RPA for NEFT disbursements/reconciliations and many activities in business operations, which has helped in improving overall productivity and TAT. Due to the digital customer on-boarding process, we have a capability to process more than 2.3 million applications a month with more than 1.2 million new customers activated digitally. Our GrameenPay App has been piloted at 76 branches, recording 17,021 successful transactions with 60% success rate, amounting to cash withdrawal of Rs. 7.16 Cr.

We have also created a centralised help desk which has led to 99.9% resolution rate, with 93% cases resolved within 7 days and over 80% cases resolved within 3 days. Additionally, streamlining and automation of customer onboarding process at RPCs (Regional processing centres) have led to 10- 15% reduction in push-back cases and 18% increase in average documents processed per employee.

What are some of the recent initiatives taken to improve your infrastructure?
We have increased scalability of digital field application to handle concurrent loads and high volumes along with offline functionality to reduce dependency on CBS (core banking solution) leading to faster response time. We have also enabled real time loan eligibility calculation based on credit bureau and loan application data, thereby reducing loan processing turn-around time.

CBS upgradation project was initiated in FY21, which will be completed in FY22 leading to significant improvement in functional flexibilities, scale and allowing seamless integration with APIs and external technology eco-systems. Robotic process automation was implemented to enhance cashless disbursement and loan application processing. Internal audit system was also enhanced to enable audit analytics, intelligence, and MIS. We will also look at collaborating with fintechs to digitize relevant functions and operations.

CreditAccess Grameen LimitedCTOSudesh Puthran
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  • Martin Duchamp

    I’m glad to see tech innovation is alive and strong in India!