The French bank has earmarked 15 billion euros to be spent in 4 years for the platforms, which will create a common data centric architecture for the group companies:
Credit Agricole Group, the French international banking group and the world’s largest cooperative financial institution, has earmarked 15 billion euros on building new technology platforms during the next 4 years. This spending will be part of the bank’s plan for total digitization. The bank is targeting to increase its retail as well as corporate customer base both in France and Italy to touch higher profit levels and the technology spend will be a key part of this effort. The bank wants to be in tandem with other global banks in terms of its technology prowess, particularly in the use of mobile and digital banking services.
Among the major heads under which the earmarked amount will be spent are the creation of common data centric architecture for the group entities and measures to improve IT efficiency. The bank will also spend on achieving 100% training for its IT staff at leading institutes and testing emerging technologies for its new services and business lines.
The bank has come out with a strategic plan that aims at a 3-year transformation of the bank that will see data at the center of things. Called the Data Architecture Convergence Program, the plan is to re-examine the bank’s existing data architecture. It intends to use the vast pools of data it has come to acquire through various means as raw material for serving its customers. The program will include development of new products and services, improvement in the efficiency of data management and creating new methods for managing the ever-growing risks.
Customers’ needs are a huge driver of changes in the bank. The pandemic and the quarantine measures forced customers to look for conveniences such as remote banking. The bank was ready to fulfil the desired requirements of the customers as it could swiftly shift to online banking. This required a new series of digitization processes to enable robotic automation of services, online shopping etc. During this period, the bank launched a new generation mobile application, called CA+. It has also developed and deployed several solutions for process automation. The application had been under development for almost a year, but the urgent need to have it for customer convenience forced the bank to speed up its implementation. There has been noticeable increase in the number of users all through 2020 and today, the total number of users is one third of the total number of customers.
PERSONAL CONTACT IS KEY TOO
In spite of the digitization and the large-scale transformation the bank has undergone, it has not given up the human touch. Personal contact with customers remains very important for the bank and it continues to invest heavily in the development of its network.
USING AI TO DEVELOP TOOLS
The bank has a corporate and investment banking unit, Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank (CACIB), which had undertaken 4 projects using artificial intelligence (AI) to accelerate the ability to read information such as annual reports, monitor news, as well as transforming unstructured data into structured data. One of the projects, developed with IBM’s Watson technology, focused on picking out 3 data points – company, activity, and country – in English language financial reports. CACIB wanted to find the relationship between the 3 points, moving beyond keyword searches. The project developed a tool, which could read a 300-page financial report document in 5 minutes.
The second project, also developed with IBM, is about reading press releases to identify new developments that would link a client with financial crime issues such as money laundering or the financing of terrorism. The third project developed the ability to transcribe voice recordings in dealing rooms. And the fourth project provides the ability to read and interpret transcripts.
The bank is clear that none of these tools will take decisions on their own. They are more intended to be means to help the human user to be more efficient, quicker and more accurate in analyzing the information.
CACIB has recently signed a new quantum computing partnership. The division is working with Pasqal and Multiverse Computing to design and implement new approaches running on classical and quantum computers. The bank says while the financial services sector has been making substantial use of algorithms, it is now necessary to turn to quantum physics to help solve quantitative financial problems. The bank intends to apply quantum computing to real world finance applications.