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Digital transformation: Re-imagining banking experience via ‘I@Bank’

Jaya Vaidhyanathan & Ramkumar Iyer

Banks and financial institutions have been the torchbearers of digital transformation and the change is distinctly noticeable through a completely redefined customer experience. In our reckoning, the future of banking in this disruptive environment can be experienced through new technologies such as Virtual Reality, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Mobility, Internet of Things, Chatbots and Open Banking. We call this I@Bank , which is intelligence at banks, enabling us to have a hassle-free banking experience without visiting a brick-and-mortar outlet.

Let us look at some key technologies that will disrupt the industry this year:

Virtual Reality (VR): VR will allow banks to roll out VR environments imaginative 3D spaces accessible from a headset. Looking further, VR environments can be personalised based on user preferences. This could include branding the VR environment with the favourite movie star avatars of the customers to act as helpers and visual tours of kiosks or other conventional banking infrastructure.

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Artificial Intelligence (AI): The AI of today is automating many white-collar jobs. Algorithms, like deep learning born only in 2012, can sift massive amounts of data using cloud powered processors, to mimic human tasks requiring prediction. Today, data scientists having advanced degrees design these algorithms and software engineers tune these algorithmic black-boxes for applications. AI will get democratised allowing even common citizens to utilise high-end AI through templates. Leading Indian share brokers have already launched successful robo-advisors for automated investment planning.

Chatbots: Chatbots have become ubiquitous in banking, though they today primarily serve as customer support agents, are transactional and lack considerable finesse. In 2019, chatbots will advance to encompass the individual personality, preferences and history of the customer.

Internet of Things (IoT): Internet of Things aims to connect every device to the internet and make it addressable, accessible, intelligent and networked. In 2019, this will proliferate to every device owned by the customer. While privacy concerns exist, the evolution of data safety standards will be followed by the market wide adoption of IoT.
Open Banking: Most traditional banks have embraced mobility by rolling out shiny new apps. However, to truly participate in the future, these banks will have to open their internal functionality through trusted Open Banking APIs (a form of access by a computer). This will allow greater cooperation between traditional banks and emerging fintechs. A start has been made in the form of account aggregation, a personal finance solution offered by leading Indian private banks.

Blockchain: Bitcoin which once started off as a decentralised crypto-currency, in which banks were viewed as obsolete, has now morphed to business focused Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT) aiming to provide banks a more secure and mutually trustable system of record. This year, the possibility of the customers being able to tokenise their major assets will improve, while DLTs will continue to be leveraged by banks as the security technology for the future.

In conclusion, this new I@Bank is a model in which the bank adopts emerging technologies and differentiates itself to provide a world-class customer experience. It s not defined by its geographical coordinates or infrastructure but by the mindshare of the customer, its digital footprint, and service excellence. With financial institutions coming to the fore and joining hands with the technology providers, we will see a major transformation with world class banking experience for both the banks and the customers.

Vaidhyanathan is president, BFSI & Strategic Business Initiatives; Iyer is
principal technical architect (products) & product manager at Bahwan CyberTek