Big IT plans with small IT budgets

Reported by: |Updated: May 2, 2020

Shashikant Abhang, CEO, Kurla Nagarik Sahakari Bank, gives details of IT infrastructure upgrades, staff training and future plans of the bank:

Shashikant Abhang

The Kurla Nagarik Sahakari Bank operates in Mumbai city and suburbs with its 12 branches and a corporate office. The has been on CBS since September 2009 to provide anytime anywhere banking and other technology-enabled services to its customers. The bank’s CEO, Shashikant Abhang says the bank today offers efficient services to customers, which has helped it to increase its business, mainly because of the implementation of CBS. “We are now planning to implement a new, latest CBS software, which has more advanced features for banking operations and which will further increase the business. It will also have advanced features for regulatory and compliance functions. It is browser based and will overcome some of the existing limitations,” says Abhang.

4 Additional ATMs

The bank is offering ATM services for both issuer and acquirer transactions, but its ATMs are non-EMV compliant. It proposes to upgrade to EMV-based ATMs soon. Says Abhang: “As part of our market strategy, we have purchased 4 new BNA ATM machines for our 4 main branches. We will soon be deploying these machines with cash deposit facility. We have started the eLobby facility at 2 main branches – Barve Road and Station Road (both in Kurla West), where the customers can do their cash withdrawals, cheque deposits and other transactions besides updating their passbooks at any time – even on bank holidays. The peak daily transaction has been in November 2019 when it touched 59,000.”

The bank has recently introduced a new inter cash depository machine, which has been authorized by NPCI and customers of any bank can deposit cash to his or account. It has also started IMPS facility and is about to introduce UPI based payment mechanism and BHIM Aadhaar app which will help merchants to accept payments digitally.

Switches Improve Services

In terms of RBI directive, the bank has implemented financial switch covering all its branches, which provide the facility to auto change over the branch network connection from primary to secondary and vice versa, without any manual intervention. Abhang explains: “This saves time for all the branches, which ultimately improves our services to the customers. This device also works as a firewall. Continuous efforts have been undertaken to ensure security, which is the cornerstone of banking. Cybersecurity has influenced our strategies and plans.”

IT Staff, Training

The bank’s aim in focusing on digital banking has resulted in the creation of a department exclusively dedicated to spearheading all innovations, improvements and implementations of the major business-oriented projects on the digital front, viz, ATM, ICD, IMPS, RTGS / NEFT, mobile banking, internet banking, etc. The management team is always in the forefront in introducing new training programs for the staff members. The bank has been regularly sending its staff for various training programs organized by the government, bank associations, RBI and others. The bank also organizes programs such as motivational training, how to improve services offered to customers and on banking operations related issues for all the staff members. “This is necessary for us to sustain ourselves in the highly competitive banking field. When we introduce any new application or upgrade an existing application, we offer training to all the concerned staff members,” says Abhang.

Small Budget, Big Service

Abhang maintains that Kurla Nagarik Shaker Bank is a small bank and its does not provide for any big budget for IT-related spending. “However, on an average, our yearly spend on IT is anywhere between Rs7.5 million to Rs10 million, which includes all AMC charges and monthly expenses,” he reveals.

The bank has formed an exclusive IT & Inspection department, which focuses on business development and monitoring, digital channel penetration, customer analysis, ATM analysis, ATM cash forecasting, daily transaction analysis, NPA movement, early warning system, accounts opened/closed, fund movement to other mutual funds/insurance etc.

The bank is also beneficially making use of big data analysis for customer profiling, which has helped it to offer appropriate and focused array of digital channels and curate highly customized products for the customers, says Abhang.

The bank has tie-ups with major software companies like Saraswat Infotech and BSG Technologies for its technology requirements. Its CBS is SWIFTCORE a product of Saraswat Infotech. Besides it also uses a tool developed by Saraswat Infotech for CKYC. Its data center, DR site and backup functions are also maintained by Saraswat Infotech. BSG Technologies provide solutions for CTS NACH, treasury, GST, CTR and STR.

FURTHER PLANS

The bank is planning to introduce mobile banking and various mobile applications and online transaction facility soon.

One important area where the bank is planning to use technology is recovery. Says Abhang: “We are planning to go for advanced recovery software for controlling and improving our recovery mechanism and containing NPAs. Very soon, we will be part of the Bharat Bill Payment System. We will also introduce tab-based banking to attract customers who are digital-savvy. We believe that capabilities offered by new age technologies like AI and ML will help us develop tools for automating a lot of customer interactions and processes (both front end and backend). We are aiming at superior customer interaction with bots that can converse in a realistic manner to our customers and are able to provide real time contextual solutions and respond to queries.”

Abhang says the bank has set new targets: “Our customer accounts (live) will increase from 123,000 to 129,000 and APBS, ACH, NEFT, RTGS, ATM, PoS, IMPS, etc, transactions per month will rise from 50,000 to 78,000.”

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