The bank endeavours to become an ideal destination for customers to do banking totally digitally:
Brazil’s largest private bank, Itau Unibanco, has several landmarks in its march towards a modern universal bank having adopted digital platforms for its transformation. The bank today has one of the most innovative models for digital services with new digital channels for operations, high-end digital branches and state-of-the-art mobile technology for interactions with customers.
One of the first initiatives in its digitization efforts, which started way back in 2013, is the introduction of a process where every customer need is addressed remotely and most often instantaneously. The customer does not have to visit a branch for this purpose as the interactions are through chats, phone messages and video-conferencing. When the system was finally put in place, the bank could strengthen its relationship with the customers, enhance their satisfaction levels and process efficiency and finally have an impact on the bottom line.
The bank today has been able to reach a level where its customers prefer to bank through digital channels even as almost all of the transactions are made through electronic channels, thereby reducing cost and increasing profits.
LARGEST PRIVATE BANK
Banco Itaú Unibanco was formed through the merger of Banco Itaú and Unibanco in 2008. It is the largest private banking institution in Brazil, as well as the largest in Latin America. It is also one of 20 most valuable banks in the world, having operations in almost all the countries in the Americas, in Switzerland, the UK, China, Hong Kong and the UAE. It has some 33,000 service points globally, of which 4335 branches are in Brazil. Its total customer base is 56 million.
MOVING TO THE CLOUD
The bank has migrated practically all its applications and operating systems to the cloud. It has a long-term strategic alliance with Amazon Web Services and it leverages AWS’s prowess to accelerate its digital transformation and enhance the banking experience of its customers around the world. As part of the 10-year deal, the bank is moving the bulk of its IT infrastructure off mainframes and out of its on-premises data centers to the cloud. It is also migrating its core banking platforms, call center solutions, online and mobile banking applications to AWS. Through this strategic shift, the bank proposes to create a more flexible and efficient technology architecture and introduce new customer-facing services faster with lower operating costs. The services include capabilities for analytics, machine learning, serverless, containers, managed database, compute, storage and security.
The bank will make use of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) to provide secure, scalable compute capacity for Pix, which is the bank’s and Brazil’s first nationwide digital instant payment platform that helps reduce reliance on cash and credit card-based transactions. It is already using Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) and AWS Lambda, the serverless computing service, to quickly launch and scale new financial services offerings.
The bank is in a constant process of training and upskilling its employees. It has chosen edutech firm Degreed to connect people with internal and external learning content. This collaboration has created a new learning culture at the bank and a new learning ecosystem in the bank.
The bank has recently revamped its payment unit iti, incorporating new products such as debit and credit cards and shifting the business model toward a full-fledged digital bank. iti has some 3 million customers, and it is mainly focused on people in low-income brackets who are mostly shunned by traditional lenders. Roughly 80% of iti’s clients are new to Itau Unibanco. And more than half of iti’s consumers are below 30 years old.
AN EFFECTIVE VA
The bank has developed a digital customer service tool, called Itau Virtual Assistant, or AVI, which uses natural language processing, built with machine learning, to understand customer questions and respond in real time. AVI helps about a million customers per month, answering all but 2% of their questions, with answers correct 85% of the time. In instances where AVI is not able to help, it transfers the call to a live agent, and in the same channel.
The bank’s data scientists’ team has also collaborated with Google Cloud to create a CI/CD pipeline based on open source project Kubeflow for online machine learning training and deployment. This is expected to speed-track the bank’s other projects that use machine learning even while bringing in enhancements to AVI.
For Itau Unibanco, digital transformation is not just a key priority, it is a continuous process. It had increased investments in IT infrastructure by 54% between 2016 and 2019 and today it is consolidating the benefits derived by expanding its multi-purpose mobile payments platform that facilitates customers and non-customers to do all sorts of transactions, most of these instantaneously.
This article has been compiled based on publicly available information on the web, particularly the bank’s own website.
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