Opinion

Banks should ride technology wave

RANA KAPOOR | Updated on January 23, 2018

Here are 10 steps which can transform the future of Indian banking

India’s per capita GDP is estimated to have exceeded $1,600 in 2014, which I expect to touch a level of $2,000 by the end of 2016.

I consider this as a threshold level of per capita income, after which the economy grows multifold in a short span of time as the consumption structure upgrades dramatically.

China’s palpable dominance in the global economy is a brilliant example of this phenomenon.

The Indian economy is poised for an orbit-changing growth over the next two decades. A nominal growth rate of 12 per cent annually will catapult India to a $20-trillion size in less than 20 years, and subsequently lift India’s share in world economy to 8.5-9.0 per cent from 2.7 per cent currently.

The banking system will undoubtedly have to play the protagonist role in this transformation.

Not only are we going to witness a sustained rise in banking assets, but we will also see an increasing sophistication of products and solutions, banking of the ‘unbanked’ and rapid consolidation in the sector — in short, a ‘life-cycle transformation’!

In order to remain a relevant partner in India’s growth, Indian banks need to embrace the mantra of ‘Inclusive Growth’ and ‘Creative Destruction via Innovation’ in order to cope with the growing needs of the economy.

With emerging needs in the sphere of urbanisation, industrialisation, digitisation, education, financial inclusion, and global integration, as envisioned by the government, I believe the following 10 developments will shape the banking industry in India’s journey towards a $20 trillion economy.

Technology

Technology will define banking contours in the future. This would include big data, cloud computing, smart phones and other such innovations. ‘Omni-channel’, not multi-channel, will redefine the way customers interact with banks.

For example, disseminating personalised offers on customers’ mobile phones, use of home video-conferencing system for personalised connect, leveraging face-detection technology for efficient cross-sell are some of the avenues through which technology will aid banking in the future.

Mobile banking and mobile payments/commerce is truly the future.

There are over 900 million mobile users in the country but only 40 million mobile banking customers. In this respect, the JAM Trinity (Jan Dhan-Aadhar-Mobile) has the potential to change the face of banking.

‘Creative destruction’

Banks will need to focus on innovation that raises competition and leads to better and cheaper services for customers. Banks may also partner to achieve scale and find best practices, combining their infrastructure into JVs.

Also, outsourcing utilities like customer authentication, fraud checking, payments’ processing, account infrastructure, KYC processing, to existing technology service providers, could be key steps going forward.

Cashless banking

In Sweden, four out of five transactions are cashless. In India, use of hard cash peaked at 11.5 per cent of GDP in 2009. Since then, it has moderated but continues to remain high at 10.5 per cent as of 2014.

In the future, cashless banking will revolutionise ease of doing transactions with further penetration of internet.

Branchless banking

Branchless banking could help in achieving economies of scale in revenue generation and cost management. The increasing trend of branchless banking is leading to closure of traditional brick-and-mortar branches in advanced countries (Bank of America closed down more than 1,000 branches in last five years).

Banking business model innovations could be combined with national platforms such as Aadhaar to reduce customer acquisition cost by 40 per cent in order to make branchless banking model even more viable.

Innovation in ATMs

As per World Bank estimates, the operational cost per transaction for Indian Banks is ₹48 per Branch, ₹25 for phone banking, ₹18 for ATM, ₹8 for IVR (interactive voice response) and ₹4 for online. India has poor ATM penetration — there are only 11 ATMs for every 1 million people in India compared to 37 in China and 52 in Malaysia. In this regard, Solar ATMs could reduce set up cost by almost 50 per cent and also cater to power scarce rural areas.

Infrastructure financing

India has 5-per cent share in the global infra market, which is expected to increase to 9-10 per cent by 2025. The futuristic development models will evolve on the lines of 5:25 structure and PPP model for long-term financing. Additionally, there will be new arrangements in the form of Infrastructure Debt Funds, Green Banking and Viability Gap Funding.

MSMEs

The MSME sector contributes 8 per cent to the country’s GDP. SIDBI has estimated the overall debt finance demand of the MSME sector at $650 billion. New structures such as Cluster Based Financing, Capital Subsidy Policy for Technology Upgradation, MUDRA Bank, Credit Guarantee Schemes, Incubation Centres and start-up facilities will play an important role in the coming years.

Competition,consolidation

Banking landscape in India will see a transformation with the entry of new age specialised banks. The urge to innovate, compete and remain in business will also pave way for synergetic consolidation. The following are a few thoughts that could become a differentiating reality over the next 15-20 years:

Account number portability (on lines of mobile number portability)

Efficient leverage of Big Data Analytics

Securitisation of retail loans

Risk management

As businesses evolve and the scale of banking increases, principles like dynamic risk management with Early Warning Signal approach need to be strengthened. US (Resolution Trust Corporation) and South Korea (Korea Asset Management), set up ARCs nearly 20 years ago to effectively dispose-off bad assets, paving the way for their ‘de-stressed’ banking future.

The idea of setting up a National Asset Management Company, which will pool the larger stressed assets into one and find a suitable resolution package, needs to be taken forward.

Easier expansionary rules

I believe that in the future, it will be important to allow easier M&A in the banking space to achieve scale, along with freedom to setup branches and ATMs as desired.

These 10 developments will present opportunities that will be critical for catapulting Indian banks in the top global league. Carpe diem and carpe noctem!

The writer is President, Assocham, and MD and CEO, YES Bank

Published on August 04, 2015

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