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Becoming paper-free an ideal situation, but there is a long way

An interaction with Harshal Dunakhe, COO, Kores India, on automation in Indian banks:

Mohan: Indian banks are today on the threshold of a digital era. As a service provider for the banking system, how would you see the direction the banks are moving towards in terms of automating their processes, achieving little or no manual intervention so that their digital journey is successful?

Harshal Dunakhe: The Indian banking industry is gradually moving towards automation so as to achieve highest productivity and accuracy in various domains and thereby it is increasingly employing latest technologies like Artificial Intelligence, IoT, machine learning etc. As per a PwC FinTech Trends Report (India) 2017, global investment in AI applications touched $5.1 billion in 2016, up from $4 billion in 2015. Here, definitely, India is not behind the scene. Today, Indian banks are continuously adding and expanding digital payment methods and taking various other steps to stand ahead in this digital era and this is presenting huge opportunities for growth for vendors like us.

To what extent, according to you, automation can prevent frauds in banks?

Recent incidents of frauds in banks highlight the risks that our digital banking setup is highly exposed to. To counter such situations, there are matured fault-finding products that are created by reputed companies available across the world. For example, the machine learning systems are equipped well to distinguish between suspicious transactions and legitimate ones. Though these are reliable systems, they need a strong ecosystem around them to improve fraud-finding and prevention.

How automation can bring about a better customer experience?

Customer experience is one of the key areas where automation is playing an important role in the banking arena. From simple chat-bots to mobile banking to institutional transaction automation, everything is being looked at for enhancing the customer experience.  Also interestingly, on the back-end also, banks are hugely focusing on bringing in efficiencies that can benefit the end-customer. Hence, it is believed that 85 per cent of customer interactions will be automated by 2020 (as per a Gartner report).

Can you outline the scenario that is evolving in the banking sector with chatbots and humanoids taking over some of the functions that humans used to handle previously?

With the increased use of AI and data science, simple repetitive processes will keep getting ‘de-humanized’ in the future also. However, that said, AI will not take over the humans completely. As per the report ‘Accenture Banking Technology Vision 2018’, 83% of Indian bankers still believed that AI will work alongside humans in the next two years. Thus, both AI and humans will co-exist peacefully to give a boost to the banking industry in the country.

Would you foresee a time when banks and financial services institutions would be totally paper-free?

Although going paper-free can improve productivity by 30-40% (as per estimates) but this is not happening really in the near future in India. The pace of transformation is quite slow in India. While some of the more progressive banks in the country are moving towards paperless operations, however, majority of the banks at the grass-root level as well huge organizations are still paper-dependent to carry out their various tasks. As the millennial get into the workforce, the pace may increase but it remains to be seen as to what will happen next.

Do you think Indian banks are lagging compared to global banks when it comes to introducing automation in processes and service delivery?

The thought, intent and approach of Indian banks is definitely on the right track across the board, however the implementation of the newer technologies and automation is not an easy task in the country. For example, Chatbots with so many regional languages is much difficult to implement in India than a single language country. So, it’s not that Indian banks are lagging, but we have our own challenges to deal with introducing automation in service delivery.

What according to you are some of the futuristic products that can enhance automation in the banking industry?

From our perspective, in terms of cheque and cash handling, there are various products that are coming in the market that can change the way the things are done. More than futuristic products, we are working with newer technologies and solutions that can enhance the level of automation and the benefits from it.

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