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SBI MF migrates to newer technologies for better CX

The company has already seen a substantial increase in the traffic on both its website and mobile app:

R. S. Srinivas Jain reveals that the focus now is more on the vendors’ capabilities to deliver remotely

SBI Mutual Fund is one of the most tech savvy fund houses in the industry. R. S. Srinivas Jain, Chief of Strategy, Digital & Technology, who has an experience of over 21 years in the financial services industry, asset management companies as well as broking and investment advisory companies, speaks about the company’s new IT partners, its initiatives for improving onboarding and improvements done in Suspicious Activity Reports using technology.

Mehul Dani: Has SBI MF onboarded any new IT partners since the pandemic breakout?

R. S. Srinivas Jain: In keeping with our endeavor to continuously strengthen our IT infrastructure, we have engaged with new partners through the year. These engagements have been in the areas of cloud computing, application development, work-from-home and information security.

How have these projects led to business growth?

The next game changer for us will be our plan to migrate the current datacenter to cloud. This will help us provide seamless user experience with the agility and flexibility that cloud has to offer. We have now prepared the strategy road map for cloud adoption and will embark upon this journey shortly.

We are also currently redesigning the entire website and mobile application to a newer platform, which will be cloud ready and will provide a better user experience to our users. We have already seen a substantial increase in the traffic on both our website and mobile app. This participation comes from not just retail users but also from the institutional as well as the distributor segment.

In the work-from-home scenario, we have 2 different approaches – one for our partners and one for our employees. For our partners, we are now providing virtual desktops as a preferred solution for them to connect to SBI Funds Management Resources (SBIFMPL)resources for various deliverables. On the employee front, we are rolling out zero-trust based solution to ensure all employees are securely and seamlessly connected to the company resources, no matter where they are. These projects are more of opex in nature.

When do you expect it to go live?

The cloud adoption project is expected to be completed in another 6-9 months. The work-from-home solution on Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is already live. The zero-trust solution should be live in the next couple of months.

Are these projects built on capex or opex? Has the covid scenario made any difference in the vendor selection basis?

Most of the projects are opex projects as the services or licenses are mostly on subscription basis. Yes, the covid scenario has had an impact on vendor selection. Now the focus is more on the vendors’ capabilities to deliver remotely.

How are new projects with the existing vendors contributing to the digital transformation?

The current projects in the distributor space has enabled us to onboard more distributors through our use of the online platform for transactions, e-KYC, etc. We expect to see significantly higher usage of these features which will help us deliver the services faster.

What are the improvements done in the mobile apps in terms of visuals, navigation, camera use, information searches, alerts, reminders, etc?

We have done a redesign of our digital assets based on design thinking ethos of keeping the user central to every decision we make. Also, we have defined a visual language that’s simple, uncluttered and optimized for discovery.

As part of the redesign, we have optimized our browser and transaction journeys to be a guided experience, based on the user intent at that point in the journey. Contextual communication has proved to be a big win reducing customer queries and eliminating ambiguity.

Camera is used in most of our apps during customer onboarding processes like KYC and folio creation. The whole customer journey is built on a series of nudges which help in driving user behavior. At last count, we had over 100 nudges and counting.

What are the payment options available to customers?

Investments through the app can be made through internet banking, RTGS/NEFT, UPI or e-NACH. For e-NACH registrations, we have recently added debit card as a mode of authentication to cater to a wider user base. Considering the recent changes to NAV applicability for mutual funds, we have been working with our payment partners to enable real time credit for various payment modes and banks.

How is the usage pattern of app in terms of downloads and customer profiling of users?

InvesTap users are mostly in the age range of 25 to 40 years, and the app has seen over a million downloads so far. InvesTap has been developed in-house and is managed by a team of product and technical managers.

What are the related targets, plans for the coming year?

Development and launch of the design refresh to all B2C application is the big deliverable for the coming year. We are also moving our mobile apps from the current hybrid to native platforms for better user experience and performance.

We are seeing how BFSI companies are using technology to onboard individual customers faster. How are you improving onboarding for different customer segments?

Our retail investor onboarding experience has always been digital. Even for independent financial advisers (IFAs) and SBI branch staff, we had engineered a way to complete the KYC digitally through image verification. Post SEBI circular, we are enabling customers to complete their KYC without any human intervention that is Aadhaar or video-based. The regulatory requirement of documentary evidence for non-individual customers is quite heavy and we have been working to make the onboarding process completely digital. We already have a transaction portal for existing corporate clients to view their portfolio, generate statements and make transactions.

What technologies have you deployed for improving onboarding?

In our investor facing applications, the only missing digital piece was the KYC process for new customers. Post the SEBI circular in April, we have introduced the Aadhaar XML process for completing KYC online, and also will be rolling out the video KYC process as well. One major focus area would be to solve for onboarding of corporate clients. We have built a robust API stack to enable partners to quickly set up their mutual fund onboarding experience on top of our APIs.

What are the improvements done in SAR (Suspicious Activity Reports) using technology in last 12 months?

At SBI Funds Management, we have implemented solutions to identify and detect cyber security related events across IT Infrastructure and applications. Furthermore, activities with regards to potential data-leakages are monitored closely by enhancing the monitoring levels and implementing stringent rules across the organization from a data sharing perspective.

To what extent has the process become faster?

Our incident monitoring and handling process has helped make faster disclosure of response and resolution-based event/ incidents. Data leakage cases are reported to the senior management (CRO & CEO) which has resulted in better turnaround time, faster closure of incidents and disciplinary action for the offenders. This in turn has further led to an increase in awareness amongst the end-users

How much more accuracy has been achieved?

We have noticed a considerable improvement in the implementation of advanced rules and effective monitoring and management response.

What suspicious activity patterns are easy to catch and what are difficult to catch?

Historic patterns based suspicious activities are easy to catch as the system is able to detect the patterns vis-à-vis zero-day exploits, while new behavioral attacks are difficult to catch.

What are the technologies deployed for the purpose? Is it in-house developed or otherwise?

At SBI FM, we follow a defense-in-depth concept, which includes multi-layer security architecture complemented by security controls implemented across process and security awareness provided to end users. Security solutions include security event and incident management correlation engine, multi-tier firewall, intrusion prevention /detection system, anti-virus / anti-malware solutions, data leakage prevention solution, encryption and so on. These solutions are availed from multiple leading security solution providers.

What are the targets and plans for SAR in the current FY?

There are multiple plans for enhancement of SAR such as the adoption of AI /ML based security operations center, data monitoring solutions, dark web monitoring, breach attack simulation, etc.

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