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From Rural Roots to Digital Heights

CreditAccess Grameen’s tech-driven microfinance revolution is driven by CTO Sudesh Puthran. See how the MFI is shaping rural empowerment through innovation:

CreditAccess Grameen’s (CAG) approach of considering technology as a business partner has helped them achieve maximum business value by reaching the required scale. The organization is primarily focused on technological advancements that enhance both customer and employee experiences and follows a ‘mobile first’ strategy.

Sudesh reveals outcomes: “Our process has an impressive 2-3 million transactions and around 0.1 million loan applications every day, which is similar to the figures of mid-sized to major banks in India. Moreover, we onboard 9000+ customers every day, which shows a significant demand in rural areas.”

The MFI understands the unique technology challenges faced in rural areas, such as network connectivity and digital literacy levels, and designs its business applications accordingly while remaining committed to the inclusion agenda.

Evolution of IT

Looking back on the company’s transformational journey over the past 3-4 years, the IT function has successfully evolved into a strategic business enabler. Sudesh highlights that CAG has transitioned from semi-automated manual processes to fully automated systems that are seamlessly integrated, resulting in increased efficiency and accuracy across all areas of the business.

Additionally, it has moved away from fragmented islands of automation to comprehensive end-to-end digitization, to automate customer journeys. The company has achieved nearly 100% uptime for digital and mobile applications, ensuring reliability for their users.

In-house Tech

CreditAccess Grameen’s in-house tech teams have developed a multitude of satellite business applications, specifically designed for mobile platforms, catering to the escalating demands of business, operations, and audit departments. Efforts have been focused on bolstering capabilities within the T24 Temenos CBS framework. Sudesh underscores the significance of these advancements: “We have consciously expanded our in-house technical proficiency to drive significant business transformations and enhancements within the T24 Temenos CBS. Through strategic initiatives, we have successfully developed APIs on the ESB platform internally, thus minimizing reliance on external IT vendors and partners. This strategic move not only fosters greater agility but also enables us to promptly adapt to regulatory mandates and evolving business requirements, thereby ensuring our competitive edge within the dynamic landscape of finance.”

Data Warehouse or Lake

The role of data in fuelling business growth is inevitable. Data analytics has been seamlessly integrated into the customer journeys and operational processes ensuring it is readily accessible to business users for both MIS and advanced analytics purposes. However, the company maintains stringent controls to uphold data integrity ensuring a single source of truth across the organization. To facilitate this approach, it has established a centralized data lake where information from various systems, including LOS and LMS, is consolidated into a single repository. This data is then extracted and transformed into specialized data marts tailored to specific lines of business.

CAG has made significant investments in a robust data platform, aimed at democratizing data availability for end-users and empower them to generate reports and conduct analytics within their respective sandbox environments, reducing their reliance on IT teams and enabling faster decision-making processes.

Application Modernization

Application modernization is a continuous journey that ensures the long-term growth and sustainability of the microfinance business. CAG has invested in cutting-edge technology architectures, as illustrated by its recent upgrade of the CBS system. When it comes to developing new business applications, the MFI has embraced the latest technologies and platforms such as Flutter, React Native, and Angular JS for front-end development. It also leverages microservices architecture and AI-enabled solutions like GEN AI at the core. This has accelerated its time to market for new application releases and fostered closer collaboration between technical and business teams.

Sudesh added: “We constantly fine-tune our customer journey by leveraging fintech solutions to reduce friction and enhance the overall user experience. Our commitment to innovation is ingrained in our technological DNA, thus mitigating the risks associated with technological obsolescence.”

Application Consolidation

CreditAccess Grameen prioritizes mapping its entire journey from start to finish before embarking on any new application development. The company recognizes that a cohesive system design and user experience are foundational to IT application design and architecture.

In the past, it had islands of automation within its customer onboarding and loan processing workflows, which resulted in inefficiencies. To address this issue, the team made a concerted effort to consolidate applications, which involved close collaboration with their business teams and engagement with various fintech partners to facilitate seamless end-to-end customer journeys.

Technology Partners

The company have built invaluable partnerships with industry leaders who have played pivotal roles in expansion. Sudesh says: “For CBS solutions, we have partnered with Temenos with Nagarro acting as our trusted implementation partner ensuring seamless integration and optimization of this critical infrastructure. Kyndrl and Control S are instrumental partners in our IT infrastructure and cloud services providing robust and scalable solutions to support our evolving needs and business growth.”

He further adds: “Collaboration with fintechs such as Scienaptic, Digi Tap, and Signzy have been instrumental in enabling seamless customer onboarding and credit underwriting journeys to enhance customer experience. For Mobile and Web application development, we rely on platform solutions from Iexceed, Software Group, and Newgen, harnessing their expertise to create user-centric and feature-rich applications.”

Journey into AI & Cloud

CreditAccess Grameen has ventured into AI-powered security alert monitoring, facilitating expedited threat identification. The organization relocated its data recovery facility to the cloud to ensure business continuity. Sudesh says, “We’re dedicated to maximizing the benefits of cloud computing and artificial intelligence to all stakeholders. In the modern era of technological innovation and empowerment, the opportunities are unlimited, ranging from automating repetitive jobs to opening up new revenue streams.”

Happiness & Motivation

As per Sudesh, as the Chief Technology Officer, his greatest joy is witnessing the vibrant dynamics of the IT team marked by a culture of collaboration. Whether it’s brainstorming sessions, hackathons, or cross-functional team projects, he ensures ample opportunities for team members to learn from one another.

He concludes: “We make it a point to celebrate individual and team achievements, whether it’s completing a project ahead of schedule or solving a complex technical problem. Recognizing and rewarding hard work and dedication not only boosts morale but also reinforces a culture of excellence for which CA Grameen is widely appreciated in the industry.”

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