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Marching towards the forefront with AI, ML & BRE

George K. John, Executive VP – IT & Operations at ESAF Bank, reveals the bank’s plans and progress in digital initiatives and technology partnerships:


Ravi Lalwani: What digital initiatives has the company implemented this year and what benefits have they delivered?

George K. John ESAF Bank has implemented several digital initiatives, including online savings account opening, e-signing and stamping of loan documents, revamping of mobile and internet banking with the latest UI/UX and technology, WhatsApp banking for customer convenience, and introducing green pin generation through digital channels. These initiatives have delivered major benefits such as reduced processing time for transactions and loans, increased customer convenience to use various banking services offered through mobile and internet banking platforms, and improved customer experience with banking services. All these initiatives are contributing towards ESG and sustainable banking.

What are the usage trends for your various digital channels?

The usage of digital products and services by the bank’s customers is gradually increasing at a rate of approximately 10-12% quarter over quarter. This trend is expected to continue as the bank introduces more digital products and services in the future.

What is the total revenue and what is the ratio of online to offline revenue generation? What is the ratio of revenue from D2C vis-à-vis partners?

As we are later entrant, the current ratio for D2C is much less w.r.t. to the top line. But if we consider an assisted approach in providing digitally enabled services, then the ratio jumps above 45% approx.

Who are your top 3 tech partners and what services do they provide?

Currently, our organization heavily relies on its top technology partnerships to shape and improve our technological landscape. FIS (Fidelity National Information Services), Craft Silicon, and Grampro Business Solutions are among our key collaborators who contribute significantly to our technological ecosystem.

What is your capex to opex ratio for IT spending? How has it changed over the last 3 years?

For the last 3 years, our organization has maintained a consistent ratio of capital expenditure (capex) to operating expenditure (opex) spending, which is 1:3. This means that we have strategically allocated our finances, investing 1 unit in capital expenses for every 3 units allocated to operational expenses.

Tell us about your IT team and how it has evolved over the last 3 years.

Our IT team has shown impressive growth and adaptability over the past 3 years. We have implemented strategic training programs to equip our resources with the necessary skillsets to provide exceptional customer service. This commitment to skill development has not only improved our support capabilities but has also established our team as proficient pioneers in the rapidly evolving landscape of technology and digital services.

Furthermore, our IT professionals have adopted a proactive approach to staying up-to-date with industry trends. This forward-thinking mentality has enabled us to not only meet the current needs of our clients but also anticipate and navigate the ever-changing technological terrain. As a result, we are proud to have a team that not only possesses the latest technical knowledge but also understands how to leverage these advancements for the benefit of our organization and clients. We are excited about the continued evolution of our IT team as they remain at the forefront of innovation in the years to come.

Tell us about your AI plans. In which functions in the organization do you see AI making the surest impact?

ESAF Bank has made significant progress in adopting artificial intelligence (AI) by implementing innovative solutions such as chatbots and WhatsApp banking. These initiatives demonstrate the bank’s dedication to utilizing cutting-edge technology to improve customer experiences and streamline processes.

Looking forward, ESAF Bank’s roadmap aims to explore opportunities to further reduce repetitive tasks by introducing advanced AI and machine learning (ML) services. This strategic move is intended to optimize operational efficiency, automate routine tasks, and enable employees to focus on higher-value activities that require human expertise.

In addition to AI and ML, the bank is preparing to implement Business Rules Engine (BRE) technology shortly. This integration is designed to enhance decision-making processes by automating complex business rules and logic. By leveraging BRE, ESAF Bank aims to make real-time, data-driven decisions, thereby improving agility and responsiveness to customer needs. The comprehensive approach of integrating AI, ML, and BRE reflects ESAF Bank’s commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancements in the finance sector.

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