Spreading relevant awareness among our customer base will play a significant role in the bank’s defense strategy: Sony A, GM & CIO, South Indian Bank

With increased digital adoption and a surge in digital usage, banks need to be prepared for customer specific and systemic attacks in the cyber realm, says Sony A, GM & CIO, South Indian Bank, in an exclusive interaction with Express Computer. Edited excerpts:

You are one of the oldest banks in the country, currently in a phase of restructuring, for strategic business growth. Can you share with us what are some of the innovative technology initiatives that are ensuring seamless experience for your customers?

The customer journey is key to all our activities, and the bank has placed an increased focus on enhancing UI/UX across all our major digital channels. The recently implemented UI/UX overhaul on our mobile banking and internet banking platforms elicited great feedback from stakeholders and customers alike. By enabling multilingual (9 languages), we have further enhanced the customer experience. All our customer-facing platforms are designed to ensure a simplified user journey and enhanced customer experience.

We have also launched AI-enabled chatbots to resolve customer queries and provide 24/7 digital support to our users. The chatbots pull and process information from various sources, such as the bank’s knowledge base and CRM customer profiles, to respond to incoming customer service requests.

Digital self-service has been a focus point for the bank. We currently provide digital onboarding facilities online, such as Video KYC-based Account Opening and Insta Account Opening, and through Tab devices which allow customers to open their accounts instantly. Also, kiosks are being provided as a self-service mode for various services. We are in the final stages of rolling out a revamped digital credit journey, right from onboarding to disbursement, implementing robust, score-based lending models in the underwriting journey, across all our asset products (Retail & SME), in integration with multiple external data sources, including non-traditional.
We also have a system in place to collect suggestions from our branch staff who directly interact with the customers, for enhancing our existing processes and identifying the weak links with respect to the entire customer journey.

Your views regarding how banks can enhance their security operational efficiency.
With increased digital adoption and a surge in digital usage, we need to be prepared for customer specific and systemic attacks in the cyber realm. As a huge chunk of these cyber-attacks directly target the customer, spreading relevant awareness among our customer base will play a significant role in the bank’s defense strategy. Periodic alerts detailing both safe and unsafe practices while engaging in digital forms of banking will continue to be circulated.

The deployment of FRM with AI capability also further helps in strengthening the bank’s applications and mitigate fraudulent attempts through behavioral analysis and identification of risk patterns.

Please tell us more about your security strategy.
The cyber security strengthening measures as stipulated and recommended by regulatory bodies including the RBI are planned and implemented regularly, in concurrence with the bank’s CISO Office. Security control applications such as WAF (web application firewall), SIEM (Security information and event management) and HIPS (Host Intrusion Prevention System) have been implemented to further strengthen security. Further, regulatory and security bodies-mandated requirements are being ensured across all digital channels, including ATMs, and customer-facing platforms on a regular basis.

Rather than ‘firefighting’ and dealing with the consequences of an unforeseen incident, the bank’s objective is to detect and mitigate risk of attacks in the first place. We are constantly in the process of evaluating and improving the quality of our overall resilience capability through technologies and practices to ensure minimum disruption and quick resolution in case of incidents or events.

Is there any other significant factor you wish to highlight?
As a country, we have demonstrated to the world, how quickly digital adoption can happen inspite of various challenges. The digital payment landscape of India, led by UPI is a clear example of how a easy to use, interoperable system will get widespread acceptance among all stakeholders. Similar activities are happening in other areas too, such as Account Aggregation. We are poised for a tectonic shift in the banking patterns, and the banks in India are well geared for the same.

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