Ujjivan Small Finance Bank
Edited excerpts of interview with Jaya Janardhan, COO, Ujjivan Small Finance Bank:
Babu Nair: We have been talking about experience in the world of banking. As a micro finance company that has transformed into small finance bank, you would have seen a lot of changes taking place in business, technology and digital. Can you narrate your experience on how this journey has been?
Jaya Janardhan: We got a license for small finance bank in 2017. In 2 years, the organization has slowly transformed from being a microfinance company to a bank. What’s interesting to see is how micro banking which is largely a physical activity like attending meetings, collecting money, signing off physical papers etc, has now become a paperless process. Our field officers who source business and do collection, do everything on a handheld device today, which is completely integrated with the backend. So, the moment he sources a customer and feeds in the information, it is directed to the bureau for credit information. The customer will know whether the loan has been approved or not in a matter of hours. There is also a lot of transformation which the field office has undergone – from processing physical documents to doing so using a digital device. The field staff are ground level people and not highly tech savvy. So, that’s a transformation that has been possible in the last two and a half years. And this is a huge deal.
The changes that we have done as a bank like in bringing in core banking system, a CRM system capable of 360-degree customer management, the various backend systems which have been integrated to make sure that the front for the customer like the phone banking feed, the branch DP, the field personnel, are all integrated at the backend through a seamless process. The bank has made huge investments to take it to the next level of digitization and automation.
When technology comes in, security too gets into. But ultimately it is the trust that the customer has in the bank that ensures that business grows. So how is the element of trust of the customer gets transformed along with this digital transformation? Do you really see this trust as an experience accelerator for you?
So, when we do a transaction, we expect OTP and SMS to come within a second and then we feel that the transaction has gone through safely. The moment you don’t get an SMS, there is panic. So, trust is a huge terminology and it depends on what you define as trust. The way I define trust of a customer in our bank is when I approach a bank and I want something from the bank, I am responded to and I am given that information. I then feel that I have satisfactory response. For example, if you have put an FD in a bank and you see a small difference in what you expected and what is seen in the passbook, and if you go to the branch and enquire, the branch guy explains it to you. That is when you feel very comfortable and your trust in the bank develops. But if you are getting some kind of vague answer, then you lose faith. When it comes to the micro banking customers, or for that matter any customer of the bank, when the customer comes to you and seeks some information from you, say for a loan, the issue is how you actually mould him into your banking fold, ie how do you answer and give him what he wants. This is the first level of stickiness. Stickiness leads to trust. Then it does not matter what the world says, he will believe what you say. That maybe the reason that when payments banks went to try and use the retail channel, it did not really work. Because for the customer, it’s that physical existence – the branch, the people, how they talk to you, how the person convinces you and gives you what is wanted that really matters. There is transparency. For digital customers, the fact that they are using the app is the underlying basis of trust that is there in the background. So, it all depends on the customer segment that you’re working with and the way you manage to give your customers the impact they wish.