An online forum for thought leaders to discuss the challenges and opportunities impacting the changing world of banking.

October 30, 2014

The evolution of banking channels in India - II

In my last post, I briefly discussed the historic evolution of non-branch banking channels in the Indian context. Almost every channel has a tremendous potential for growth, albeit from a small base. Going forward, banks will have to focus as much on the distinct financial needs of vast swathes of the population as on technology and innovation in order to accelerate the uptake of alternative and digital channels.

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October 29, 2014

The evolution of banking channels in India - I

The banking sector's first ATM debuted in the late sixties, nearly five-and-a-half centuries after the world's first modern bank. From there, the pace of automated customer interfaces really stepped up - online banking in the mid-nineties, mobile banking in the early aughts and social media access in 2012. Today, banks are already in a race to conquer the wearables market even though the concept itself is yet to completely break free of the proof-of-concept stage.

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October 15, 2014

IT Solutions Moving Forward


IT vendors assisting banks in front- and back end processes and accounting either through a branch- or centralized core database developed several software solutions. They also built compliant solutions enabling banks to follow regulations and processes, reduce manual labor, errors and omissions and increase automation. These solutions were mostly utilized for streamlining operations and improving customer service. This set of solutions may be treated as first generation IT in the banking and financial sector.

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September 5, 2014

Tackling System Complexity in Banking - part II

As discussed in my previous blog on this topic, a 'one architecture' approach enables banks to significantly reduce system complexity. Of course, the unification vision has to be applied to application design in order to unify experience across products, channels and devices.  

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August 28, 2014

Tackling System Complexity in Banking - part I

From a purely IT environment point of view, complexity in banking can be a manifestation of multiple factors - legacy systems, disparate technologies, application & process redundancies and inadequate/inefficient integration. These factors can seriously undermine a bank's efforts to embed versatility, flexibility and agility into their operating DNA. Simplification then becomes a foregone conclusion for banks that want to compete in today's marketplace, defined by evolving customer needs, omnichannel distribution models, stringent compliance standards and technologically superior competition. 

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August 27, 2014

Make Business, Not Engineering


Most Indian IT companies have strategized, developed, branded, sold, implemented and established products & solutions catering to various industries and used by clients all over the world. Given the strength of Indian engineering skills, and good career options in that area, the Indian IT industry's commitment to exploring and building products is not surprising.  While a few products go on to attain maturity and leadership, many others struggle to gain acceptance. The Banking and Financial sector is full of complex IT solutions for core banking, insurance, Asset Liability Management, prevention of money laundering, etc. Such products and solutions must be easily deployable, and have the right features meeting the needs of the target market.

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August 22, 2014

Simplification, without the stress

A research report released last year estimated that in 2014, large financial institutions in the US would spend close to US$75 billion on IT improvements that would help them 'change the bank' rather than 'run the bank'. Change seems to be the operative word for banking across the globe given the fact that that every aspect of the business of banking is also changing. 

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Optimizing Training Costs in Core Banking Transformation

Core Banking transformation enforces change of such magnitude that it requires massive re-training of staff. Almost every user in the bank will be touched by it and therefore large budgets need to be set aside for training. In a budgetary crunch, when banks are looking at cutting costs everywhere, training is almost always a casualty. At the same time no one wants to cut corners in improving employee productivity.

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Is innovation all about managing change?

I did an Internet search on "most innovative companies in the world". Predictably, the search engine that I used, Google was in the list along with several other new-age organizations. There was a clear pattern though - none of the lists featured top-notch business or management consulting organizations at the top. Isn't it surprising that reputed management consulting firms that drive innovation at several client organizations are not considered innovators themselves? They have the ideas and the expertise, so where do they falter?

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August 15, 2014

Annoying Customers by Deploying Technology Not Yet Ready for Primetime

Some months ago, my workplace Employee ID card was replaced by a smart card with an embedded chip and the simple swipe at the turnstile permitting entry, now also needs a fingerprint scan. Whereas in the past I could enter with one swipe, now I need to scan my fingerprint twice (sometimes more) every day. If I do manage to get in at the first scan, I am unreasonably happy. I am one of those gadget freaks and like to try out new things all the time, but this fingerprint scan at the gate beats me! I thought there was a knack to it that escaped me, but no, that isn't so. Having observed other people go through the multiple scan process has convinced me that this is standard fare! The technology works, in the sense that it lets me in and out everyday and I haven't yet got inextricably stuck. But it's frustrating as compared to the earlier experience where one swipe was enough. Clearly, the fingerprint scanning technology works but I feel that it is not ready for primetime. If this technology were to be used with customers, they would get annoyed and competitors would look to take advantage of that.

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