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SBI steps up digital acceleration with YONO

In its bid to become one of the top 10 digital banks in the world by 2020, SBI is banking heavily on this single, unified platform which is being used for end-to-end customer acquisition

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The use of technology to radically improve the performance or reach of enterprises has been a hot topic for every CIO. Today, enterprises across industries are using digital advances such as analytics, mobility, social media, IoT, robotics, blockchain, machine learning, advanced communications and collaboration, and are trying to bring remarkable improvement in customer experience, time to market, internal processes, and other value propositions.

BFSI is one such industry vertical that continues to drive innovation with the help of technology. In this era of self-service, organisations in this sector are trying to automate every process where technology can improve efficiency with minimal human intervention. Having said this, successful digital transformation comes not from implementing new technologies but from transforming the organisation to take advantage of the possibilities that new technologies bring to the table.

State Bank of India, the country’s leading public sector bank, is the classic example of simplifying the digital experience. As SBI wants to be one of the top ten digital banks in the world by 2020, every initiative taken by the bank has its roots in a digital strategy.

Shiv Kumar Bhasin, CTO of SBI, says, “Today, banks have to make huge technology investments to enhance customer experience. Rather than the customers approaching us, we should be more proactive in reaching out to customers to understand their financial needs. In such scenario, you can function like or be called a true digital bank.”

Project YONO
State Bank of India has undertaken a slew of key initiatives to drive tangible business results. The bank’s most large-scale, well-planned digital transformation initiatives are centred on re-visioning customer experience, operational processes, and business models. The usage of digital technologies has helped in enhancing customer experience, streamlining operations, and creating new revenue streams for the bank.

In this endeavour, the bank launched SBI YONO (You Only Need One) about a year back, which is an integrated digital banking platform that aims to be a one stop solution for banking, lifestyle, insurance, investment, and shopping needs of the customers. There are a number of things that can be done through this app, including applying for loans, opening a savings account instantly or even shopping online. YONO is available on both Android and iOS platforms.

Many of SBI’s and its subsidiary financial products offerings such as SBI Cards, SBI Caps, SBI Mutual Funds, SBI General and SBI Life, has been integrated into the YONO app. Users of the app can also apply for loans, such a home loans and auto loans. Apart from this YONO is being used for fund transfers and even to get a loan/overdraft against Fixed Deposit.

Bhasin states, “We have launched SBI YONO across the country with the aim to offer next-generation banking services to India’s growing mobile phone and tech-savvy customer base. This platform not only provides unique digital experience to its customers but also makes various lifestyle, entertainment, journey and other shopping requirements available in one app through more than 85 e-commerce merchants across 19 categories.”

He further points out, “It is a single, unified platform to access SBI Group’s services. The key pre-requisite for this platform was to have an omni-channel and omni-device having an event-driven architecture, wherein we have used advanced analytics based not only on any customer’s past transaction behaviour but also looking at the current customer profile or his spending pattern. This is the kind of intelligence we have built which was earlier missing in our internet or mobile banking platform. We wanted to build a true digital bank and with this approach, we will surely become one of the top 10 digital banks in the world.”

The bank is witnessing a good traction over YONO, particularly the younger generation customer which enthuses SBI to come up with such offerings. There are already more than 10 million customers on board YONO and the bank is adding about 31000 new customers on this platform per day. And surprisingly, about 80 per cent of these new customers are in the age bracket of 22-30, which is in line with the bank’s focus to target millennials.

“By March 2019, we want at least 15 million customers to come on board at our YONO platform. And by 2020, we want about 25 per cent of the bank’s revenue to come from the digital bank i.e. YONO platform,” adds Bhasin.

“At SBI, we are also referring digital banking as ‘empathetic banking’ where we empathise with the customer’s life events like birthdays, anniversaries, retirements, promotions, purchase categories he/she falls into, average monthly balance, average weekly ATM withdrawal, etc. We are capturing these moments and monitoring these behaviours and then give them curated offers or improve the financial product offerings. While we are acquiring these customers in the real-time, the end-to-end process is being done with the help RPA (Robotic Process Automation),” explains Bhasin.

The bank is also launching YONO Cash, wherein the customers do not require to carry debit card to withdraw cash from any SBI ATM. In the YONO app, they just need to key in the amount and set up the PIN for the transaction. After reaching the ATM, they need to enter the amount, their mobile number, and the earlier PIN set for the transaction. The customer will receive another PIN from the system and upon keying the new PIN, the money will be dispensed from the ATM machine. This is totally a card-less transaction.

“We are also planning to work with very large wearable devices vendors where we can have alternate, contact-less payments. Even for cheque processing, we have put up RPA agents. For example, when cheques are scanned and data processing is done, the cropping of data from the cheque and sending it to settlement houses – these all are done by RPA agents. Besides, we are also releasing APIs for fintech firms. In the YONO platform, we have set up our own bot, which has been developed in-house using advanced AI, analytics, ML, and NLP,” highlights Bhasin.

Other digital initiatives
Another digital initiative is targeted at the branches, wherein the aim is to digitise all the branch processes under the ‘Rupantar’ initiative. It also at the core digitises the branch processes associated with CBS. The initiative will lead to reducing queues at branches. The employees are also being trained for this, for which a separate platform in the form of a multi-lingual bot has been formed, which is called ‘Rupantar Genie’.

The bank is also moving towards an approach of having end-to-end banking platforms that are completely digital. “This is done using micro services, API layer. It should not be a monolithic platform but scalable and services oriented. KYC, compliance, account system, pricing – all can be done taking these technologies approach. To achieve this objective, the bank is building an innovation center. The fintech companies will be co-located onsite to collaborate with the bank to work on-premise. The bank has so far worked with more than 150 startups on various cutting-edge technologies including chatbot and data analytics,” asserts Bhasin.

SBI is also tapping its employees towards making them ‘intrapreneurs’ and funding them to create solutions. The theme is to build the bank as a technology platform that is producing technology powered products and services. The IT strategy is targeted not only to enhance customer experience, but also to transform the workplace. The bank had the fastest Office 365 implementations in 90 days. The teams are using collaborative technologies like Kaizala app, and Skype, which is used more compared to face-to-face meetings.

The other initiatives include devising a threat perception dashboard, working on a customer communications platform, and an alternate biometric system for differently abled employees. A state-of-the-art command centre is also operational that will monitor the CBS and all the customer channels. It will also monitor the state of each of the ATMs of the bank. Furthermore, the bank is moving the branch servers on the cloud. With this, they can be accessed on a BYOD model and across omni-channel.

From the blockchain perspective, the bank has set up remittance corridor based on blockchain between SBI India and SBI Nepal. In fact, SBI is one of the first banks in Asia to go live with blockchain based remittance.

Driving future growth
To drive the future growth, SBI is working on server-less architectures. Looking at the size of the bank, wherein it has 450 million customers and 750 million accounts, it is going for container-driven architecture, where it can have scalable design.

After the Supreme Court’s decision on Aadhaar based authentication, from the security perspective, SBI is putting a huge emphasis on and looking at bringing automation for other documents like passport, driving license, and PAN card among others. Here, the bank is putting AI and ML-based authentication wherein the authenticity of these documents could be determined by the robot. “If a customer comes into a branch for physical document verification, the teller already has the information from the robot whether the documents are authentic or not,” asserts Bhasin.
Again, from the security standpoint, the bank has enhanced its perimeter or edge-level security using AI, ML, and robotic process vigilance. Here, the robots are going to monitor the user behaviour of the applications.

He further points out, “The bank is also working on an ‘Adaptive Security Framework’. Since it is an omni-device, omni-channel bank, the customer might have logged in from his home PC or an iPad. Here, the bank should be able to detect whether it is mobile app, iPad app, or a desktop app, as the customer might have logged in from different devices. To find out the authenticity of the customer, we will not only send an OTP but also do facial recognition. And with regards to facial recognition, we will capture and detect the liveliness of the face in a unique manner so that somebody does not play static photo or video to get into the app. Additionally, we are working on speech recognition piece as well, which is again being developed in-house.”

The bank has also set up a 1000 racks fully software-defined data centre in Hyderabad and it is quite bullish on implementing its private cloud, as this is going to be the largest in the BFSI industry. Here, SBI will carry out the complete end-to-end auto provisioning for the bare metal and systems software as well as application software and from there, it will deploy technologies based on container-driven architecture.

Furthermore, in order to bring better ROI of its network architecture, the bank is setting up SDWAN and is planning to do POC with 500 branches. This is one strategic network transformation program. To improve the branch network, the bank is working with various players like BSNL to bring our key branches in cities on to the fibre.

“From the lending perspective, we will have a fully digital lending on the YONO platform for the car and home loans, wherein the in-principle offer will be given to the customer instantly on the mobile device and we will be carrying out not only the credit bureau checks but also various other checks which enrich the decision management by the underwriter. Robo advisory and personal finance are the other areas that we are going to work on the YONO platform,” concludes Bhasin.

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