Shilpa Desai, IDFC Bank

In this age of rapid technological advancement, digital transformation is the way ahead. And it is taking place at a fast pace in most industries. The banking and financial sector too is leveraging these digital pathway to improve customer experience as well as bottom lines. Muqbil Ahmar, Executive Editor, Grey Head Media speaks with Shilpa Desai, Head, Digital Sales and Business Intelligence, IDFC Bank about the advantages that her bank saw in following a digital roadmap. IDFC got the banking license four years ago and in a very short while has been able to establish itself in the market, thanks to the digital transformation.

“If we ended up doing what a majority of the other established players were doing, that would have taken a lot of time. Following a large network led acquisition model would take time to scale. But the fact is that technology is playing such a huge role in changing lives. Therefore, at the very core of our business model, we have digitally enabled every single piece of customer interaction, whether it is account opening via a tab or other functions. We don’t have papers, there is no filling of forms. The benefit is immense. The customer has to spend less time. There is no rework at the back end. There is nobody to do data entry. There is no data leakage or loss. From the service side, everything is enabled through a customer relationship management (CRM) tool. Again no touch, so the benefit is that you are omni channel. If you placed a request for a check book at the branch, it would capture the data. Even if you went on Internet banking the next moment, it would track the request, since they are all interconnected. There is complete visibility and the customer feels in complete command of his money and transactions.”

“So, whether it is account opening or cross-sell servicing, or whether it is the ability to manage your money, everything is taken care of and is digitally enabled. We had this as our basic premise when we started off. It meant a very different architecture to allow us to do that. So, all front end and back end was integrated in a seamless manner for visibility. So, you will never have a situation where we would say that we will come back after checking because everything is present on a common system. It allowed us to dramatically change our throughput and enhanced our servicing capability, making a world of difference to our functioning.

As more and more digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, Analytics, Blockchain, etc. start  delivering significant real-life benefits to early-adopting companies, Shilpa says IDFC is building the ground to leverage these state of the art tech. A report by McKinsey points to the fact that companies which are new to the space can learn a great deal from the early adopters.

“We are setting up the entire data warehouse and analytics. Once we have all of that in absolute readiness along with a very strong baseline for converting our current BI methods is when we would think of adding these incremental layers. The gains of these new technologies are applicable only when you have a strong baseline and we would start implementing such new age technologies,” says Shilpa.

Shilpa is particularly upbeat about the role that AI and ML can play in the coming days as far as fintech is concerned.

“Artificial Intelligence has its own advantages. It has that much more throughput and provides scale. In the future I see everything as AI enabled whether it is customer facing or anything else. This is something on the anvil. We are going to invest in this and use it to dramatically improve experience and profitability. Blockchain is also something that we have been looking at for a while and we clearly understand the power of this space.

“Fintech is adding a lot of depth while banks have a lot of width. For example, there are so many fintechs that operate in the space of alternate credit. One is that banks can build it themselves and which was the older model. There are people who specialized in certain areas such as alternate credit or alternate pay back to be able to do  a better decisioning or profiling. From our point of view, it makes sense to partner. This is what is called BaaP, Banking as a Platform. There can be a lot of partnerships in that space. So, we co-create. Whatever is the strength of the partner we leverage that. And build an entire customer franchise. As a model it works very well for us. This can be done for several aspects such as payments, lending, etc. We are very keen to witness disproportionate business growth on the strength of this collaborative model,” adds Shilpa.

By Muqbil Ahmar

A graduate from Indian Institute of Mass Communications and M.Phil. from JNU, Muqbil comes with a very diverse and vivid background. An author, a tech evangelist and environmentalist, Muqbil has worked with various organisations as a senior editorial resource. At Grey Head Media, his prime responsivity is to nurture the western regions of Mumbai and Pune with rich and intense interactions with CIOs, CISOs and technology vendors.

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