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Bankers WFO, Out-sourced Staff WFH

Indian Bank has outsourced application development and testing for non-critical applications to external vendors during the pandemic:

Deepak Sarda, GM ITD & CTO, Indian Bank

Indian Bank has undertaken a number of digital initiatives in 2020-21. During the pandemic, it has enabled acceptance of NCMC (National Common Mobility Card) cards in contactless mode in retail POS machines, RTGS 24x7 through internet banking and positive pay system in internet banking. Deepak Sarda, GM, ITD / Chief Technology Officer, elaborates on what the bank has done to meet its requirements for IT services during the last FY.

Mehul Dani: How have requirements for IT services changed during the pandemic times compared to earlier times?

Deepak Sarda: The pandemic has changed the way we looked at traditional banking and has shown the need and importance of digital banking. Digital transactions have grown exponentially and the footfalls in branches have reduced.

The total financial and non-financial transactions of Indian Bank have increased at a linear rate even during the pandemic, which can be compared to the growth in the last few years. But the growth of digital transactions has surpassed all projections done by the bank which has resulted in requirement of additional infrastructure to cater to the increased transaction load.

The increased digital transactions have led to a growth in cases of cyber fraud too. This has been countered by deploying state of the art security solutions in the bank network and by educating the customers on the need to follow best safe practices while carrying out online transactions.

In what ways has the response from IT companies changed?

The response from various companies/vendors associated with the bank has changed to a great extent. Availability of onsite engineers for day-to-day management and maintenance of IT systems has become very scarce during the pandemic and most of the support is being extended by virtual means.

Even though our officials were attending to their duties from office during the lockdown, most of the vendors supporting the bank have moved to WFH model. The physical presence of the vendor was limited to the physical maintenance of the equipment deployed by the bank.

Have you changed your IT service partners or mostly continued with the existing partners?

Indian Bank has mostly continued with existing partners only and no service partner was discontinued on account of the pandemic.

Has the number of outsourced people for IT services gone up or down during the pandemic?

The number of outsourced persons has more or less remained the same as at the pre-pandemic era and only the work locations of most of the personnel were changed – from physical presence to virtual presence through remote means.

What new IT services were outsourced during the pandemic?

Application development and testing for non-critical applications are outsourced to external vendors.

Which IT service do you think will increase and which will decrease?

Various IT services are likely to be increased during and after the pandemic, including: 1. net banking, 2. mobile banking, 3. UPI, 4. IMPS, 5. NEFT/RTGS, 6. SMS banking, 7. balance enquiry and transaction statement through SMS, 8. cyber security, 9. adoption of WFH working models, 10. online loan requests & processing, 11. online account opening and 12 virtual meetings. IT services which are likely to be decreased, include branch transactions, account opening through branches and DD & cheque environment.

Can you explain how IT services have contributed to increase the business and customer base and customer satisfaction in 2020-21.

Adoption of IT services during 2020-21 has played an important role in maintaining the business operations of the bank. Due to the pandemic, many customers have avoided coming to bank branches. Increasing adoption of digital banking has introduced a cashless economy in the country. The adoption of IT will further help by reducing footfall in bank branches. This may help the bank team to focus on increasing cross-selling and upselling by using data analytics thus increasing interest and non-interest income of the bank. Additionally, the on-boarding of customer by using video KYC and online account opening will help the bank to expand the customer base. Customers can open the account instantly from the comforts of their home without any hassle.

Automation and centralization of the loan application and approval process will benefit the customers. This facility will also increase the customer base. The online IT service adoption will result in increased customer satisfaction by providing seamless digital journey.

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