South Indian Bank aims to maximize its digital pie

Reported by: |Updated: August 1, 2020

The bank has several digital initiatives that have helped it to stand out in the crowd:

South Indian Bank foresees in the long term the predominance of digital channels to the extent that most of the transactions will be through these channels with minimum requirement for customers to visit branches. In line with this conviction, the bank has set up a dedicated Digital Banking Department.

Elaborating the bank’s efforts in digitization, Raphael T.J., CIO of the bank, says the bank has been constantly focusing to onboard all customers on to digital platforms with an objective of improved customer convenience for entire banking activities. In addition, the bank has moved all frequently sought requirements from customers on to digital platforms ensuring seamless as well as hassle-free banking experience to the customers. “We thus hope to address the customers’ expectation of anytime and anywhere banking,” he adds.

Raphael lists some of the recent initiatives in this regard:

  • SIB Mirror Plus app, which facilitates online FD/RD opening, debit card management, cheque book facility, FASTag recharge, payments of school fees, etc
  • SIBNet, an internet banking facility which ensures bulk processing of salary/NEFT transactions for corporates, GST payment and e-filling of returns and online onboarding for customers for FASTag.

FOR CUSTOMER CONVENIENCE

The bank has also been leveraging digital technologies to reduce the need for physical presence of customers at branches or use of other resources. For example, customers can block ATM cards or debit cards using their mobiles without the involvement of the bank staff, use FeeBook, which is an online self-customizable payment portal, where multiple payment portals can be created in quick time and integrate the bank’s payment gateway with them or make use of the Digital e-Lock facility to safeguard their accounts.

Raphael emphasizes that the IT strategy of the bank is in total alignment with its business strategy and the bank has evolved short-term and long-term plans in this regard. Among the short-term plans are enhancements of CBS, internet banking, mobile banking, CRM, Business Process Management (BPM), branch infrastructure, scaling of the SOC operations, extension of FRM solution to internet and mobile banking and extending AI capabilities into process automation. As part of the long term plans, the bank intends to implement blockchain based applications, new technologies to improve storage, computing and memory, BYOD/WFH and cloud compliance.

IT DEPARTMENT

The bank’s IT division comprises digital banking and IT operations departments. There is also an independent CISO Office. The digital banking department focuses on innovation, improvement and implementation of major projects on the digital front making use of emerging technologies such as blockchain, AI/ML etc. The IT operations department is responsible for technology lifecycle management and maintaining the core technology infrastructure and enterprise applications.

Raphael says the bank has recently set up an exclusive department for BI and Analytics. “We have developed dashboards for diverse business uses such as business development and monitoring, digital channel penetration, customer analysis, ATM analysis, ATM idle time analysis, ATM cash forecasting, daily transaction analysis, NPA movement, early warning system, delinquency analysis, accounts opened/closed, fund movement to other mutual funds/insurance etc. In this work, we are using ML algorithms and probabilistic models and the results are conveyed to targeted business teams,” says he.

TECH PARTNERS

How is the bank making meaningful use of the capabilities of its technology partners?

Responds Raphael: “We have always looked at technology partners to provide better solutions for optimizing our internal operations and improving customer service. We have engaged with global technology partners like Oracle and VMWare and there have been unique instances where these institutions have helped us in simplifying banking experience for customers.”

He says most often the offerings of these partners are deployed to enhance front-end customer experience such as AI, chatbots, RPA, advanced analytics and ESB/API, engaging Big Data and analytics for better customer profiling, which helped the bank offer its customers a more appropriate array of digital channels and curate highly customized products for them and loan origination system to facilitate centralized loan processing resulting in improved TAT in account opening, loan sanction and customer servicing.

Says he: “Technology partners like Oracle enable us with next generation cloud services and futuristic offerings, which we can then tap to deliver superior banking experiences to our customers, while simultaneously improving our operational efficiencies and continuing to lower costs.”

The bank is proposing to implement Oracle’s Autonomous Database and use its Gen 2 Cloud region, which just came to India.

RPA IN VARIOUS DEPARTMENTS

Raphael also says the bank has implemented robotic process automation in various departments and processes, which he says has definitely helped it to minimize mundane human efforts, improve TAT and increase accuracy in processes.

He also reveals that by giving increased fillip to digital modes of banking and educating customers regarding the same, the bank was able to increase its share of digital pie from 60% to 72%  in the last financial year. “Änd for the current financial year, our goal is to increase it to as much as 85%. We also plan to move more cash transactions to digital/semi-digital mode and transaction volume through internet banking, mobile banking and card channels marked growths of 84%, 52% and 18% respectively.”

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