With a vision to be “the most admired Bank” which is digitally-enabled with a sharp focus on micro, medium and mid-market enterprises’, Federal Bank’s digital transformation strategy is designed to achieve the twin objectives of superior customer engagement and enhanced operational/service efficiency.
Shalini Warrier, COO, Federal Bank shares more details about the bank’s digital transformation, consumer engagement strategy and the challenges it overcame in optimizing the bank’s analytics platform by adopting Oracle technologies and solutions.
Q: Could you share more details on Federal Bank’s digital transformation and consumer engagement strategy?
A: Our strategies around customer delight reflect our vision. To realize our vision and to stand out in an extremely competitive banking industry, we’re consistently improving our service quality and speed.
There are two basic tenets to our digital transformation and consumer engagement efforts:
(a) Take advantage of our current digital strengths to provide a smooth and enriching customer experience – further enhancing customer satisfaction – while reducing operational costs. Our ‘Be Your Own Master’ (BYOM) service is a great example with which current customers can avail single-click, pre-approved personal loans based on their eligibility. This has helped us build a good roster of personal loans
(b) Continually innovate and experiment with emerging technologies to raise the bar on customer service, on an ongoing basis. Our recent blockchain based new cross-border remittance service is an apt example.
Q: How is Federal Bank countering threats from born-digital financial services firms?
A: Though we live in an immensely competitive world, there’s no reason for us to view our play as a zero-sum game. The moment we start looking at innovators as threats, we are effectively taking a step back and shutting the door on opportunities to be better than what we were yesterday. Therefore, we regard digital financial services players as an opportunity for new, exciting, mutually beneficial partnerships. As a matter of fact, we’ve already partnered with a number of these firms to offer innovative solutions to our clientele.
Q: What is the bank’s strategic innovation roadmap?
A: At Federal Bank, we believe in innovation across the board, where innovative thinking can trigger a solution at every level of the organization. From a roadmap perspective, there are a few focus areas we have identified to up the ante on innovation, and cloud remains a key catalyst. These include use cases such as robotic process automation (RPA) to automate repetitive operational tasks, AI/ML for addressing clarifications/queries of our branch staff, facial recognition for monitoring internal access control in our headquarters and blockchain for cross border remittances.
Q: How have you leveraged AI to drive digital strategies in your bank?
A: In banking, we see most potential for AI in security, risk management and customer engagement. As such, we have been taking strides in this direction. Soon, you would be able to experience enhanced security in our solutions, improved risk management capabilities and intricate customer engagement strategies, all powered by AI and available for everyone to experience through our apps and services. We are dabbling in technologies like facial recognition, natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning, developing numerous proofs of concept, and are getting a step closer everyday towards large scale practical application and rollout.
Q: You recently implemented Oracle Autonomous Database. What challenges did you face, specifically around your analytics initiatives, prior to this implementation?
A: The foundation of a robust analytics platform is its tech stack. The efficiency and performance of any analytics platform is a direct function of its underlying technologies and more importantly, its limitations. Prior to implementing Oracle Autonomous Database, we weren’t able to crunch and analyze disparate datasets and draw meaningful correlations between them in a fast and efficient manner. The time and effort it took to patch, optimize and manage the databases was significant and directly affected costs and uptime of our systems.
Q: How did Oracle overcome those challenges? What business benefits did your bank see after implementing Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud and Oracle Analytics Cloud?
A: Performance and reliability are what every database management team looks for. With the Oracle Autonomous Database cloud service, we realized a self-sustaining database solution powered by advanced machine learning, offering end-to-end database automation. Performance, stability and uptime have increased significantly, with the added advantage of security. The time taken to run queries have effectively been reduced by more than half, having a direct impact on our business productivity. Our analytics platform is now more robust and complete, allowing our employees with more time and energy towards profound tasks.
Q: Please elaborate on Federal Bank’s business momentum and growth strategy for 2019 and beyond.
A: Our results have been out recently, and we had a fantastic quarter. Annual net profit rose to an all-time high thanks to a concerted effort on all fronts. Our business has grown organically clocking 24.8% growth in retail advances and 20.5% in deposits, all the while improving asset quality with net NPA standing at 1.48%. The key highlight of our business momentum is that all our major financial indicators have been in the green. Our growth strategy for the coming fiscal and beyond is simple – ensure our return on assets continues to improve, while at the same time, ensure we stick to the fundamental requirement of growth with compliance.