Has the digital wave truly surged the aspirations of financial services?
Digitalization has delivered the adequate impulse for the Indian Banking Story to turn a corner. The marriage of progressive digital constructs with legacy business models and services architectures has allowed financial institutions to innovate faster, explore deeper, and transform to scale with high reliability. The development has provided the means to convert revolutionary proof of concepts into sustainable revenue streams, allowing lenders to redefine their tactical and strategic postures. But has the digitalization of Indian banking been able to percolate its benefits to the country’s socioeconomic rock bottom, empowering the service operators and consumers alike?
A prolific and pervasive appification of financial services has been the hallmark of Banking 4.0 in India, adding speed, orderability, and ubiquitous access to the equation.
The landscape indeed appears conducive, considering the nation’s burgeoning mobile user base and unprecedented internet penetration. However, on the flip side, the financial literacy in India hovers around 24%, with only 10% of its population digitally competent. Moreover, the country also scores abysmally in cyber hygiene. Apparently, fundamental challenges persist in driving the financial inclusion mission objectives based solely on continuously pushing down digital tools to the consumer’s end.
Branch level operations: the epicenter of services delivery
In India, amidst its geographic and cultural diversities, branch offices have traditionally played an overarching role in the financial services ecosystem for lenders across the public and private sectors. Apart from driving volumes, branchbased transactions instill the demanded magnitude of trust, loyalty, and customer confidence, indispensable for all-weather business relations to thrive. Nevertheless, much of the country’s branch operations trajectory is hamstrung by a host of inadequacies. It ranges from inherently paper-based processes that are
iterative, time-consuming, and fragmented, decentralized verification task loads requiring repeated collaboration with third parties, lack of communication between stakeholders, to limited visibility into workflows from an applicant’s perspective. The situation has been further aggravated by the COVID-19 induced disruptions, burdening the operational parameters of the branches with the necessary safety protocols and capping their service potential.
Undeniably, any attempt to construct compelling financial services journeys and holistically drive inclusion cannot culminate without addressing the root causes that ails a typical branch office scenario in contemporary India. The digital story is incomplete till we can bring relief to the branch staff, already operating under a hefty workload, and orchestrate an equally rich experience for the customers who may not yet be sufficiently digitally savvy.
Otherwise, the dual risk of the lenders losing out on profitable business opportunities while incurring avoidable overheads and the erosion of service experience owing to bureaucratic complexities will continue to loom large.
Bolstering branch capabilities an imperative to drive service transition
Currently, when the service commitments of the branch offices are tested to their limits, the need of the hour is an emphatic solution that can elevate the transactional environment, empowering the operators to perform optimally with finite resources and motivating consumers to expect more from their brands. The integrated platform should be ideally able to ingest data in both physical and digital formats, deliver comprehensive analytics to support leadership decisions around building assets or liabilities and leave an auditable trail of action. But most importantly, it should be able to take the benefits of digitalization intact up to the bottom of the Indian banking pyramid.
BranchOffice: A digital platform to amplify branch capabilities
The InteGREAT platform from Perfios is the incarnation of the company’s pioneering efforts in real-time analytics and decision support around customer data. It leverages the low-code philosophy and a modular approach to allow financial institutions to consistently build and deploy customized solutions at scale, mobilizing a broad spectrum of business-centric use cases. Assessing the critical requirements of the Indian lenders, Perfios has developed BranchOffice as an organic extension of InteGREAT to contextualize their digital capabilities and replicate the platform’s success at the branch level.
The BranchOffice is purpose-built around the findings that much of the onboarding journey of customers at the branch level in the country is still entirely based on physical documentation or a mix of physical and digital. It converges and simplifies the customer onboarding journey across the financial product and service lines by providing an agile and empowering operating experience. The system architecture is integrated with the analytical engine of InteGREAT and draws heavily upon the core competencies of Perfios in real-time analysis and decisioning. It can ingest KYC data inputs in physical and digital formats (PDFs, hard copies, and images) and provide a single pane of glass visibility for the lending decision-makers into the financial position of the prospective applicants. Such reports may include heads like their current debt ratio, the number of loans outstanding, or EMI defaults, if any.
Further, the Fraud Check and Verification suite, otherwise available as a standalone product from Perfios, is plugged into the BranchOffice, allowing a single-click authentication of documents like PAN, VoterID driving licenses, etc., without diverting from the actual operating environment. Besides, Perfios has developed a portfolio of pre-built integrations and ready-to-use plug-ins that can be installed on-demand to align BranchOffice closer to specific service delivery patterns. The platform is layered with a lucid UI, available in vernacular to ensure smooth adoption even across the remote corners of the subcontinent.
Solutions for digitally resolving localized inadequacies
As a product, BranchOffice attempts a clean sweep at establishing a seamless digital journey at the branch level from the operator’s and the customer’s standpoint.Apart from the factors that exemplify the Indian banking scenario, it has also been inspired by the fact that the workforce at the branches is, at present, a healthy mix of boomers and millennials with varying levels of digital competency, the bandwidths are understandably limited, and the employees are hard-pressed to accommodate more within limited business hours. Similarly, the customers may not be able to visit the branch repeatedly or have all the documentation handy, delaying their access to quality financial services. Here, BranchOffice provides respite by offering a portal where branch employees can create applicant profiles, upload KYC documentation in various formats with a single click, verify the authenticity and analyse the application’s eligibility across the entire product and service line; all from a single operational environment.
Such a composite approach improves the efficiency of the branch staff by integrating multiple workflows and establishing a single source of truth for powering the onboarding decisions. While, for the employees, BranchOffice saves time and thoroughly organizes their workbenches through automation, for the banks, it trims investment in separate analytics and verification channels with various central regulators and authorities, reducing the TCO of their customer onboarding infrastructure. Similarly, the platform incentivizes customer delight and brand loyalty by allowing them the flexibility to submit the documentation either in person, through email attachments sent to their Relationship Managers or by simply providing the credentials through a link that BrachOffice can use to proactively fetch their Income Tax, GST or bank account details. Moreover, the applicants are kept updated in real-time on the status of their applications. Such conveniences are enablers, allowing the banks to maximize conversion and add to their revenue base at the branch level.
In the post-pandemic world, banking, as an essential service, must reimagine its operations to ensure business resilience and continuity. As the Indian banking framework’s building blocks, branches need to be strengthened with the right policy and technology expertise to respond better to the shifting customer expectations and muster profitability. With over a decade-long focus on understanding the intricacies of the various financial journeys, Perfios, as a fintech leader and category creator, is committed to equipping the lenders for the challenges that lay ahead. Living up to the vision, its BranchOffice attempts a bottom-up approach to maximize financial inclusion in the country through operational simplicity and enriched service experience, banking on the possibilities of the Digital.