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5 Challenges Of Digital Banking In India And How Indian Companies Are Overcoming Them

5 Challenges Of Digital Banking In India And How Indian Companies Are Overcoming Them

1. The ‘Smart’ Spirals

In 2019, India had over 560 million internet users across the country. After China (at 854 Million users) India ranks as the second largest online market worldwide. This could however, be misread as a flattering statistic. Because with 40.1% Internet penetration, India languishes far behind many of its South East Asian neighbours (South Korea – 95.1%, Japan – 93.5%, Malaysia – 80.1%, China – 58.4%, Bangladesh- 56.2%)

Compounding the country’s low internet penetration, Indian banks are confronted with poor penetration of smart phones as computing devices. In 2018, there were 290 Million smartphones being used in rural India. World bank developmental data categorises 860 Million as ‘Rural India’. Do the math.

Change however is not far behind. Spurred by the government’s Digital India campaign focussed on levelling this digital divide; higher availability of bandwidth, cheaper data plans and competitive pricing for smart phones; the subscriber base for digital transactions can only grow in 2020 and beyond.

In fact, the current numerical scenarios described above, do not deter Indian banks from augmenting their digital capabilities and offerings. Digitizing processes and reimagining digital technology is today’s topmost strategic banking agenda. Done well, these radical process-changes translate into cost reductions, higher employee productivity and stronger customer engagements.

All said, Smart phones will spiral Smarter banking. And Soon.

2. Dismantle to Evolve for the new ‘DISC’ consumer

Customers that are digitally native, intelligent, social and connected (DISC) seek engaging service designs that match the coolest Internet companies. This rising customer demand of ‘convenience without additional cost’ brings legacy banks under a constant subliminal threat. Not to be cowed down either, most conventional banks look to leverage their pre-existing customer data and trust. In addition to the process digitizing approach spoken earlier, traditional players incubate new ‘all – digital bank’ to stave off digital disruptors making serious dents to their market positions. Abundance of software talent in this country makes this ‘dismantling-for-evolution’ proposition easier.

3. Brick and Click; Not an ‘either-or’

Most of today’s digitally savvy customers check account balances on phones but want to speak for say enhancing their credit card limits and yet like to visit a physical branch for discussing home loan options. Different horses for different courses.

New age banking mindsets get this dynamic. They view the present reality as a persistent challenge and a creative opportunity. The situation is not an ‘either/or’ but, an ‘AND.

Unsurprisingly enough, the proliferation of digital banking technology has not diminished the number of (or significance that) clients place on transacting inside an actual bank.

In fact, per RBI data tracking data (below), the volume of transactions in digital banking throws up interesting trends: Customers visiting branches for activities continues to be on the higher side but for higher amounts. At the same time, small value transactions continue to flourish through digital wallets, internet banking etc.

Searching for ‘that’ elusive customer experience sweet-spot often guides these banks to fine-tune their customer loyalty strategies.

As illustrated by a Gartner study, another element at the core of Brick Vs Click debate are ‘chat bots’. By end 2020, it is estimated customers will manage 85% of their relationships with banks without directly interacting with a human (another study points out that chat bots save up to $0.70 per interaction).

The con of the argument however is that chat bots (yet) do not offer culturally nuanced and unique service touch that say, a rural banking customer is habituated at his retail branch counter. These gaps often raise unanswered privacy concerns and creates a wariness against digital transactions. That debate will be decided by how quickly banks can consciously contextualise their digital solutions.

4. The ‘why’ before the ‘what’

The sheer glut of digital transformation initiatives in the Indian banking industry (pegged at $24.5 Billion in 2018) does invite confusion – which digital transformation projects are ‘urgent’ and which are ‘important’? Decisive banks are the ones that separate quantum innovation from the incremental transformation efforts. Beyond experimenting for product costs and features, the focal point today is on ‘customer experience’. Competitive edge comes from designing superior customer experiences that drives higher adoption and eventually secures brand recognition and digital loyalty.

And often, the question at heart of such transformation journeys explores not the ‘how’ or ‘what’ but why?

5. Home Alone, Home Secure

Indian cyber security market – $ 2 Billion, 2019 – is estimated to grow to $3 Billion by 2022; a compound growth rate of 15.6% that is predicted at one and half times the global rate.

One of the largest challenges for digital banking transformation initiatives has and will remain the ability to solve security issues at scale.

Today’s banking environments heavily draw upon collaborative ecosystems – meaning, hundreds and thousands of networked computers and other connected devices. Add Social, Cloud, Mobile and other channels into the continuously evolving mix and we are talking about managing financial vulnerabilities on a never-before seen scale.

In fact, today it is the digital banking transformation that powers the Cyber Security Industry to continually create stronger security and compliance solutions capable to scale on demand. No matter how the cyber security and banking technologies commingle tomorrow, the number of digital transactions will be influenced by how secure (and how alone) we feel in our ‘digital homes’ today.

While more can be discussed about challenges and opportunities applicable to digital era banking, but banks – that prepare to seize the globe’s second largest digital market (yet maturing) stabilized by the current popular government and a stable regulator invested in capitalizing the global digital economy – will eventually succeed.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors’ and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

This was originally published on Business World website and is being reproduced here.

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Interview: Future will see more digital services at much faster pace: NN Subramanian, Maveric Systems

Interview: Future will see more digital services at much faster pace: NN Subramanian, Maveric Systems

Maveric Systems helps global banking and fintech leaders drive business agility through effective integration of development, operations and quality engineering initiatives. Its strong banking domain competency combined with expertise across legacy and new age technology landscapes makes us a preferred partner for customers worldwide.

NN Subramanian, Co-Founder and Global Head of Quality Engineering, Maveric Systems, tells us more. Excerpts:

NN Subramanian: The ever increasing digital transformation has led to the sharp rise in software testing. A report by Global Market Insights suggests that the software testing market would reach $60 billion by 2026. Agile and DevOps led testing would be instrumental in this exponential growth curve. Customers would also see technologies such as artificial intelligence led predictive analytics taking centre stage in speeding up testing cycles.

The experience-centric economy is already seeing testing becoming a prominent member of its family. Thorough levels of testing are enforced across smarter devices, websites, wearables and other digital properties, to ensure superior performance, better reliability and utmost security. This means, digital quality engineering is going to be seeing increasing demand for accelerating transformations.

Early digital quality engineering strategies are now the new normal for speeding up the testing process and building an automated pipeline for continuous quality. Pitfalls and defects are detected much earlier in the software development life cycle with agile resolution and re-factoring of code.

The post COVID-19 scenarios will definitely be seeing aggressive investments into digital experience and digital adoption, which means more digital services at a much faster pace being launched in the international and domestic markets. This will require quality at speed, and at scale.

DQ: How is innovation needed to adjust to the rapid spike in innovation in the space?

NN Subramanian: New age testing approaches, supported by intelligent test automation is the direction everyone is seeking. With significant Dev-QA integration in emerging QE delivery models now the demand is for in-sprint automated functional and non-functional testing.

Many businesses are still in the early stages of adopting these testing models. Intelligent test automation strategies fuelled with technologies such as AI, ML, RPA and more, would bring significant acceleration, efficiency, productivity, continuous monitoring and scale into QE.

About 95% quality engineering (QE) automation is one of the key promises delivered by Maveric to its customers. We have invested and built zero code-based tools and accelerators and matured frameworks, which are engineered for speed with cognitive methods and predictive analytics.

DQ: How will banking, as a core and essential services sector, evolve in the current scenario?

NN Subramanian: The world economy is going through one of the most epic battles with COVID19. What new models emerge and how businesses cope with the new-normal, we will know only when the dust settles down and we come out of the current crisis. While this scenario has come with many challenges, this will undoubtedly give birth to many opportunities, especially for enterprising Indian Businesses.

Digital transformation market in the banking world is estimated to reach 121.7B by 2025. With the pandemic, this might see a steep rise and change starting from the current year itself. You will see many traditional banking service providers who were not digital savvy, would soon adopt the digital path for their survival.

For example, I recently resolved a query on my bank account through a chatbot which wasn’t available in my bank before the lockdown. Many smaller service firms are even using opensource chat platforms such as WhatsApp for communicating with their customers.

Look at Maveric Systems, for instance. We were ready with the remote home working structure in less than 24 hours after the lockdown. The work from home (WFH) model has also been effectively implemented by schools, Universities, physical fitness centres, health-care consulting and others for their service continuity. Online media entertainment platforms are seeing a significant spike in its customer viewership. Payment wallets are acting as saviours if you are struggling with cash.

As you see, digital consumption is about to grow exponentially and that would require the IT service providers and product providers to rise and deliver at Speed and scale.

DQ: In what way does Maveric’s Quality Engineering (QE) services accelerate banking transformation?

NN Subramanian: We are a world-class leader in quality engineering (QE) services for the banking industry. In the last 20 years, we have supported more than 60 banking transformations. It is a testimony of our exclusive banking domain experience.

We bring continuous quality focus across transformation journey’s, with quality engineering (QE) solutions that are engineered for speed and can be delivered at scale. Using our cutting-edge dev-test-ops approach and real time insight driven dashboards, we uniquely anticipate pitfalls and defects much earlier in the development cycles.

Maveric’s clientele include banking customers of all ages such as traditional full-service banks or the new-age challenger and digital banks. We have supported many unique customer engagements – be it a multi-year or multi-country transformation or a new banking product rollout assurance or new age digital initiatives or compliance led validations and more. This way, we have built diverse banking experience with multiple specializations across the segments of corporate banking, retail banking, payments, wealth etc. Furthermore, we have also built IPs such as ready-to-deploy test kits, tools, accelerators and frameworks for faster time to market.

DQ: How will banking in India, and globally, evolve, post Covid-19?

NN Subramanian: The banking scenario both globally and in India will drastically shift to ‘Digital First’ and ‘Mobile only’ banking channels. As we come to terms with this new normal, I believe the industry will focus on:

Localization – more and more banks will now tend to hyper localize the products and services
Digital payments – it’s anybody’s guess that digital payments will see a exponential rise in transactions.
Faster go to market – Banks will also focus more on agile ‘launch as you develop’ development model to bring newer and better services to its customers.

What we are going through is unprecedented. Banks will be and should be driving successful banking technology transformation through conscious contextualization, leveraging comprehensive competencies and with core commitment to delivering superior customer experiences.

This was originally published on DataQuest India website and is being reproduced here.

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Four impact areas of COVID-19 on digitization of banks in India

Four impact areas of COVID-19 on digitization of banks in India

Banking services in India are classified under the essential services list. Banking and financial institutions were under immense pressure to ensure business-as-usual amidst the lockdown and health crisis.

Banking operations such as cash deposits, withdrawals, clearing of cheques and other traditional teller services had to be executed by maintaining a safe distance of at-least a meter. Social media was abuzz with a bank employee’s effort to handle cheques with tongs and sanitize them with a steam iron.

The operational and technical challenges for both the customers and employees highlighted a lacuna and the general lack of agility in our banking systems when faced with an emergency situation. The immediate learnings from the current COVID-19 situation will add the much-needed rigor towards digitizing and optimizing the bank’s backend operations. This will eliminate the dependency on manual entries, person led reviews i.e. paper and employee intervention within banks.

When the COVID-19 situation is past us, it is expected that the Indian Banks will shift gears to move away from traditional forms of banking. The traditional banks will stand the opportunity to leapfrog adopting cutting edge banking technologies and blaze the digital transformation trail. Currently, 27 of Indian public sector (PSU) banks are on a path of consolidation to 10 large banks. It is an opportune time for the PSU’s to explore better technology integration and customer adoption.

Other Indian banks (both public and private) which are already online with some core banking functions will focus on a complete transition by digitization of all their functions, processes and systems. Legacy Indian banks and financial institutions will also look at collaboration with the new entrants and fintechs. Such necessity-driven partnerships will drive innovation and jointly reap the benefits of the large customer base of the banks and the new technologies of the fintechs.

The COVID-19 situation will not only accelerate the adoption of technology, but will renew focus on the following four key areas of banking:

Embracing neo technologies – In the aftermath of the pandemic and economic uncertainties, emerging technologies will play a key role in speeding up transactions and reducing costs for banks. Indian banking sector has already realized the role of technology in achieving the reach and scale.

I foresee higher rates of adoption of microservice architecture by dropping vertically integrated stacks, APIs, containerization, cloud computing, AI and blockchain. These technologies will play critical roles in digital transformation of Banks and Financial Institutions and re-imagine digital delivery of services.

Channels of digitization – As per the 2017 global findex report by the World Bank, India is home to the world’s second largest unbanked population at 190 million adults without access to a bank account. With increased penetration of mobile and Internet, the primary focus would to accelerate technology enabled digital financial inclusion.

The business focus would also be to create a gradual shift in customer preference from visiting bank branches to using digital channels. Banks will enable its customers to interact over multiple automated and digital channels to offer the optimal channel mix. Banks will consider important factors such as demographics, access to internet, last mile connectivity, customer banking behavior patterns etc. to enable effective adoption by the Indian banking consumers.

Security, privacy and customer trust – According to RBI, for the financial year 2017-18, India’s banking sector witnessed a spike in cyber frauds and pegged the losses at $ 13.7 million. With increased use of cashless and digital economy, it will be imperative for the banks to implement secure frameworks and systems. Some of the obvious cyber risks include financial frauds, money laundering, data loss, identity thefts and privacy breaches.

Banks need to take stringent steps to identify both internal and external system vulnerabilities. They should be technically strengthened by rigorous KYC, strong customer authentication (SCA), financial grade APIs, firewalls, smart networks, etc., for secure and seamless transactions. Robust banking solutions and cyber security initiatives help safeguard against malicious attacks.

Policy and compliance – The focus should be on increased digital payment infrastructure, especially in rural India, with an intention to create a financial ecosystem for the unbanked and underbanked population of our country.

From a security and privacy standpoint, India is already on its path to introduce the Personal Data Protection bill (PDP) on the lines of GDPR in the EU. This bill protects personal information of consumers including sensitive financial information. It would be in the best interest to implement stringent penalties on erring entities found in violation of the bill.

India’s banking revolution can be further catalyzed by the introduction of the open banking directive on the lines of the UK and the EU.

The COVID-19 impact on the global and Indian financial systems will be phenomenal and multifold. It is important to take the long view and prioritize accordingly. For Indian banks particularly, resilience, driven by digital agility, is a way to achieve relevance and success on the other side of COVID-19.

— Ms Samudyata Kadur Shivaram, Associate VP for Digital, Maveric Systems.

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Cloud-based Core Banking – A need in the times of unprecedented crisis

Cloud-based Core Banking – A need in the times of unprecedented crisis

Banking has been one of the industries extremely cautious in adopting cloud native technologies. Highly regulated norms, practices and data privacy laws have precluded them from cloud led investments. Stringent as the banking laws are, the stakes are simply unique and too high.

COVID-19 has beset the economy with unprecedented challenges. In these unrivalled times, banks have been supporting their customers purposefully with new modes of digital technology evolution. Many of these innovations are powered with cloud native technologies. Social distancing clauses are perhaps the biggest reason for the industry to look beyond their traditional ways of business operations.

The Game of Cloud

No one needs introduction to cloud native platforms and technologies, and the value they bring to every business enterprise. Last year, Gartner forecasted worldwide public cloud service revenue to reach 354.6 billion by 2022. Amongst the various cloud players, Gartner has predicted Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) segment to lead the game of cloud with the highest share.

Many banking businesses are beginning to draw confidence from Fintech service providers to adopt the cloud roadmap. Functions such as Human Resources, Marketing, Sales etc., are already leveraging cloud-based technology platforms for their daily operations. The needle, now, is slowly but surely moving towards the core banking services such as retail banking, wealth management, payments, treasury and more.

A Pragmatic Case of World’s No 1 banking software company

As digital appetite grows for banks in the current pandemic, many are turning on to SaaS based banking solutions. We can take the practical case of Temenos, which is world’s no 1 banking software. To help banks tide over the current crisis, Temenos has restructured their service strategy to focus more on AI-based SaaS technology propositions. The last quarterly performance saw them recording significant growth in SaaS based banking solutions. In fact, the revenue from SaaS based license selling increased by 104% in actual contract value (ACV).

Temenos Infinity, a digital front-end solution and Temenos Transact (erstwhile known as T24), which is a renowned worldwide core banking solution, are among the various SaaS based product lines launched by Temenos. Both of them guarantee remarkable digital capabilities with cutting-edge features, pre-configured functionalities and also, keeps a close eye on compliance support.

Next Commercial Bank (Next Bank) is one of the early adopter neo-banks in Taiwan, which has selected the cloud native Temeno Transact platform to rapid launch their banking operations. Another Swiss based tier-1 private bank Banco Itaú, is implementing Temenos Wealth to revamp their wealth management operations. Yemen based Al Kuraimi Islamic Bank (KIB) has also selected Temenos Infinity and Transact to replace their legacy IT systems. KIB features among the top 5 leading banks in Yemen. These recent examples reflect the adaptability of cloud-based banking platforms for banks of any size and types.

Future of banking with Temenos Infinity and Transact

The agility offered by cloud based banking solutions, is ‘what-the-doctor-ordered’ for the current pandemic. Cloud native applications promise a great deal of customer experience through simplified processes, lower CAPEX, highly intuitive user interface (UX), advance data analytics and are capable to operate across significant scale(s). They can be deployed anytime anywhere, and put to use much quicker than the traditional on-premium based solutions.

  • Temenos Infinity is a comprehensive digital banking solution, designed for onboarding, servicing and retaining customers of tomorrow through seamless and highly intuitive user journeys. It offers next-generation capabilities with power-packed analytics for driving result-driven actions and decision making. Additionally, bankers can expand their business portfolio by taking advantage of open banking privileges through OpenAPI’s
  • Temenos Transact, formerly known as T24, is the next generation core banking solution. Trusted by more than 3000+ banks, they have been among the favorites for the last 25 years. Transact now comes packaged and wrapped with robust cloud-native, cloud-agonistic, micro-services based technology.

Maveric systems, being a certified Temenos services partner, has made significant strides and considerable investments in getting its Temenos specialists trained in SaaS based Temenos Infinity and Transact solutions. Our brand promise of ‘Connected Core’ enable banks to accelerate their next transformation journey, by building a digital ecosystem designed with reliable solutions and endowed through encyclopedic Temenos proficiency.

Much more secured than we think….

Arguably, and in all fairness, security dialogues are exchanged and discussed deeply when it comes to cloud migrations. Most of the SaaS based banking propositions are designed carefully keeping in mind all current and future led security scenarios. Banks can deploy proper gated controls such as digital fraud detection systems, build encryption walls and provide a safer transaction passage through Transport Layer Security (TLS). More so, bankers gain further confidence through the additional security layer of AI based algorithms packed in SaaS propositions.

The Road Ahead

Most Banking CIO’s are on the edge of cloud technology disruption that has erupted in the current crisis. They would soon need to wear the ‘cloud-hat’ to bring banking innovation at speed. There are enough proof points reflecting positive vibes for banking CIO’s to invest in cloud native core banking. The future of core banking will certainly see more cloud deals, thereby setting the next course for digital banking ecosystem.

This was originally published on MEAFINANCE website and is being reproduced here.

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