Aim is to ‘embed the bank in a customer’s journey’
DBS Bank is known for its high level of digitization. Alfian Sharifuddin, MD and head of Technology and Operations, DBS India, gives details of the bank’s efforts in India
N. Mohan: What is the significance of holding hackathons? Have these really helped the bank?
Alfian Sharifuddin: We use hackathons for our recruitment. For example, we launched Hack2Hire last year in Singapore and India, to hire developers. Hacker in Her, a women-only hackathon, and Game of Codes, a campus recruitment hackathon, are 2 programs that are unique to the India market. These programs have helped us attract the crème de la crème of talent. This is a 48-hour session, where we give an offer letter to all selected candidates at the end of the process.
Which are the major technologies that are used at DBS Bank’s Asia Hub for Innovation and the applications that are developed? Can you narrate instances where these applications were successfully used in the digitization process at the bank?
Some of the latest technologies that are being used include micro-services for better resiliency, chaos engineering for better resiliency, open APIs for ecosystem / partner integration and a whole platform built on cloud-native technologies. We also use integrated SDKs for specialized services such as soft token, chatbots and credit risk assessment. All these SDKs when integrated with our app, have enhanced our digital offering. We also use insights from customer data and feedback to make better decisions on our products / offerings. We are working on multiple AI / ML technologies for future enablement of product offerings.
DBS Bank has been working on migrating to cloud-optimized technology in a big way, especially its recent use of the technology for data centers. Which are the major areas where cloud technology is being used and what are the perceptible benefits? Has the bank been able to shift a major portion of its workload to the cloud as planned?
Over the last 2 years, we have been focusing on replacing the legacy stack with more modern cloud-ready infrastructure / cloud-optimized infrastructure in India. This move has not only helped the bank reduce its physical data center footprint but has also helped it scale up on demand for the various experiments the bank has embarked on. As we stand, we have moved more than 80% of our stack in India to the cloud-ready/cloud-optimized infrastructure. The only areas that currently remain, are regulatory applications, which we intend to take up in the next phase.
To what extent has the bank’s program to depend less on branch banking and more on self-service platforms progressed? Digibank is definitely one great example. Any other such efforts?
In India, we are by and large completely reliant on self-service banking, via our Digibank offering and serve over 2 million customers. We can onboard customers digitally and we have a whole gamut of features that are completely digital. Over the recent years, we have been focusing on: • digitising all our customer journeys
• straight-through processing and designing for NoOps, thereby fulfilling most requirements in real-time • balancing security with convenience by launching soft tokens to do away with hard tokens
• seamless onboarding without the need
to go to the branch
• contextual offers for customer delight
and to incentivize self-service • launching chatbots to serve customer queries digitally and instantly without human intervention
All this has led to continuous increase in our transactions migrating to the selfservice mode from an assisted mode over the last couple of years.
How is digitization helping the bank offer better customer experience?
One of DBS’ strategic priorities is to ‘embed the bank in the customer’s journey’. This allows us to design the journey from the customer’s perspective and the goal/s that he / she is trying to accomplish. We also analyze data such as play-store ratings, in-app ratings, call analysis, monitoring / instrumentation data, on a continuous basis, to analyze and get insights about what is working well and what our customers like and dislike. This helps us in dynamically altering our offerings to
get the best customer experience. Our ‘design for no ops’ philosophy also helps in all services being offered real-time. Speed (screen responsiveness) is another element that is given high priority, as we have seen good co-relation between speed and customer experience.
At DBS Bank, we continuously focus on improving customer experience by taking up initiatives such as ‘soft token’, which balances convenience and security, chatbot / virtual assistant, data driven insights etc. These are some initiatives that help us improve the customer experience.
The bank is known to have developed an algorithm-based lending model. Can you give details?
We recently launched the algorithmbased lending for our Digibank customers, where we offer pre-approved loans to the customers and an option to increase the ticket size of the loan, if additional inputs are provided by the customer. This offering ensures that from end to end, it takes not more than 5 minutes to get the loan amount credited in to the customer’s Digi savings account. We work with partners to assess the customer’s credit worthiness using advanced algorithms.
The bank has been working vigorously on Robotic Process Automation. What are the major areas of application?
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in the bank follows the Process Digitization Framework, which defines the selection of the right tool for automating processes, based on various criteria like input forms, decision making, workflow requirements and target output integrations.
Specifically for India, RPA is being used to handle new customer account opening processes, handling parts of onboarding and BCAP processes, NPCI chargeback capture, UPI transaction credit confirmation, stale PO handling, etc.
The key advantage is that RPA helps eliminate manual and repetitive tasks of data input into various applications and searching for information, reducing both the effort, as well as error rates. This helps to improve the service quality and turnaround time for customers.
What are the bank’s plans to create a technology infrastructure for SME finance?
The bank is exploring options to digitize the SME loan journey end-to-end, such that the whole process can be completed by customers online, and without any ops intervention - ‘design for no ops’.
Post-Digibank, what are the new products in the pipeline?
We would like to offer market-leading digital experiences to our customers. We plan to offer intelligent banking via the use of analytics and machine learning, which uses the rich data set that we have, to further enrich the customer experience. Basically, the effort is to ‘make banking invisible’, and be involved in the everyday lives of customers, seamlessly.
Finally, what is the roadmap to replace legacy infrastructure, in order to be ready for the digital journey that the bank is now embarking on?
Over the last 4-5 years, we have been focusing on replacing the legacy stack, with more modern cloud-ready infrastructure and have adopted a more open source stack to be future ready. We will continue to invest heavily in modernizing our infrastructure stack over the next few years, to ensure that we remain current with the latest technology trends.
Alfian Sharifuddin reveals DBS Bank has been focusing on creating a coloud-ready/ optimized infrastructure
DBS Bank’s Hacker in Her team