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

Banking Frontiers - - Highlights - Mo­han@bank­ingfron­

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

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