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IndusInd Bank: Digital initiatives are just an illusion without a sturdy foundation

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Digitization does not happen in a vaccum. A lot of components are required to work seamlessly in tandem with each other. Mridul Sharma, Head-Technology, IndusInd Bank gives a detailed overview of how he enables it in his organization

Designing digitization

I look at digitization in three stages. The first stage was when banking moved from manual to digital systems. Second stage was having basic transaction systems computerized and lot of processes were digitized. We have one of the highest number of processes (36) running in a digitized fashion. In our centralized processing unit there is not even a square inch of paper. The only priority is to get the client experience right. When data or a process is moving digitally there are a lot of benefits to avail. Centrally, we know what the customers request and can control if it is happening on time, etc. It reduces the overall turn-around time. System based checks are initiated, and thus, at every stage human error is reduced. For example, someone has submitted passport copy as a KYC proof and it goes all the way up, and then it is denied because the document is expired versus the moment it is submitted the system notifies that it is not applicable. It is like an assembly line, wherein one can know every item in the system. There is a huge complexity that is compressed to create a simple system on the front. When the first screen upload happens there are innumerable calls at the backend.

Design is intrinsic and there is significant complexity at the backend. To support that one has to consider how data centers work, how the system is architected, how communication happens between systems. The experience is paramount in terms of milliseconds. If the application doesn’t open in 7 seconds the entire experience goes for a toss. One has to start thinking at micro-level.

We have also put the API gateway in place. It is like saying, “I can expose any service to the customer or any partner”. They come onto the portal and plug it in their system to initiate a payment gateway and it is on without integration. Digital India, QuickSun are using it for payments, remittances, etc. Since January we started off with 10,000 and were 4 million last month. Fingerprint banking has been the most recent digital initiative at IndusInd Bank.

Going mobile

Mobility is a key initiative for us, as that is how people are accessing the services. We have also initiated the concept of video branch. From mobility stand-point using these two applications, one can access any of the services of the bank whether through self-service or assisted service mode. For the past two years the focus has been how to enable a lot of stuff on mobile. The video branch is much ahead of its time. This service is open to both customers and non-customers by any channel. It is even better than a branch experience as it recognizes you by your face. One is not required to remember any password or any manual. Simply by the art of telling, the transaction is done. Mobility will continue to be our focus. Very recently, we did an update on our applications, so we have added new services like notifications, etc. The objective is that anything you want to do with the bank can happen through mobile.

Going mobile means dealing with various operating systems. Typically the same application has to be created on every platform. We have gone with Mobile Application Development Platform (MADP), so that all the codebase is in one place, which can be published in each of these platforms. Finally, it is all about customer experience. The difference is that the client experience is speedy and seamless where there is no webpage load. One does not need to do login through OTP. The first time when a customer logs in, a lot of data is taken at that time and post that device is registered. After he can just login with his/her fingerprint.

The design thought is around customer experience. It has to be the way customer wants the transaction to happen. As a result of this we are seeing huge growth. Netbanking usage grows by 10-11% YOY. Mobile banking is growing by 25% month on month.

Complexity as an opportunity

The exercise we are doing is to internally re-architect our entire infrastructure. Monitoring is an important aspect of any digital initiative. In any mobile transaction one has to check whether every component is behaving well. Finally, we are focused on creating an end result. Digital Experience Management is also important. While the complexity has gone up, there is an opportunity to hide that complexity and present a user-friendly surface.

We are reviewing machine learning and AI. But presently, we are in the phase where we are looking at how can these add value. The challenge comes when you ask the question, “What next?” We are still a mid-size organization, so for us to think something and to construct it quickly is a challenge. Our branch sizes may become smaller as lot of stuff may get automated. However, branches will never go off completely as people still want face-to-face interaction when transacting.

 

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