Digital Banking Channels Redefining the Way Financial Services are Being Offered

Specializing in business model innovation, product development, go-to-market strategy, and digital strategy and startup development areas, Deepak is an IIM Calcutta alumnus and has also completed his Technology Leadership Program from Massachusetts Institute of Technologies. He has been associated with Kotak Mahindra for over 15 years now, prior to which he has handled key responsibilities across Hutchison Max, Standard Charted Bank, and Airtel.

Siliconindia recently got a chance to interact with Deepak, wherein he shared his insights on the current digital banking services landscape in India and many other related aspects. Below are the excerpts from the exclusive interview –

What are your strategies to drive the growth of digital channels and increase customer engagement in the banking sector?
Kotak is well known for what we have achieved overall as a digital success story through our mobile app, which is one of the highest rate mobile banking app today. Over 20 million customers use our app and it sees over 240 million visits each month. Additionally, our app ofer over 280 different features. Although the success of our digital channel was led by our mobile app, there has also been significant contributions from our Internet banking, website, WhatsApp and conversational banking. We offer our customers the flexibility to reach-out to us or avail every banking service through the medium of their choice.

When we build a channel strategy, we look at how to create journeys, experiences and features that our customers demand on a daily basis. Digital channels have become the best way for us to offer hassle-free end-to-end customer experience. At the back of our digital channels, we have led some of the largest innovation and modernization, including launching At- Scale Digital Bank 811, which has now become one of the most successful digital banks in the country, and we have also launching our wealthtech platform called ‘Cherry’. Both of these digital platforms that we run have been very much successful so far.

How do you ensure the security and privacy of customer data in digital banking channels? What measures do you take to mitigate cybersecurity risks?
Cybersecurity is one of the major aspects to consider when talking about a digital banking platform because as banks, we continue to innovate and provide customers with a lot of convenience features. Thus, it is important for us to balance security and privacy effectively. For instance, we were the bank to enable fund transfers without having the need to add a beneficiary and access their bank accounts from more than one device. While offering such unique service, we made sure to prioritize security aspect as well at both frontend as well as backend.

Today, banks are increasingly using data and drawing insights by using data analytical tools and capabilities

Additionally, all our apps have in-built mobile app security feature that constantly scans for any malware or other potential threats on your device and alert/restrict you from making transactions that seem suspicious/risky in nature. Also,features like behavioral biometrics and risk-based additional authentication have enabled us to continuously monitor user behavior and strengthen our security layers at all levels in tandem to the current threat matrix.

"Cybersecurity is one of the major aspects to consider when talking about a digital banking platform because as banks, we continue to innovate and provide customers with a lot of convenience features."

How do you stay updated with the latest technologies and industry trends in the digital banking space? Also, how can BFSIs collaborate with various internal departments to align their digital initiatives with overall business objectives?
We are always on the lookout for interesting technologies and emerging trends pertaining to consumer behavior & preferences. We then carefully analyze which technologies and use cases will be immediately relevant for our customers and sales/business teams’ productivity. Also, we continually carry-out researching about the kind of platforms that can be built for our customers and the use cases where latest technologies can be effectively deployed to reap maximum benefits.

Depending upon the kind of projects and initiatives that we run, we work with various cross-functional teams with the intention of having a collaborative approach towards solving a problem. Also, digital becomes an enabling layer, wherein our core infrastructure and technology provides us the right APIs and solutions to innovate faster. This not only helps us work effectively with our internal teams, but also with startups, fintechs and external fintech ecosystem players.

How are banks adopting to changing customer expectations & preferences in terms of digital banking and personalized options?
Today, banks are increasingly using data and drawing insights by using data analytical tools and capabilities. At Kotak, we have a consumer insights practice wherein we look at data and analytics between click to conversion and pay keen attention to the kind of feedbacks that we are receiving from our customers across all available channels. Data is the core input for whatever we do. For instance, our Click-through data analytics tells us whether a particular product/ campaign is relevant to the customers or not. Thus, understanding more about our customers helps us design our products & experiences with the involvement of all our teams in this innovation process.

In your opinion, how are technology and innovation shaping the future of banking?
We experiment and work across technology. This including emerging and existing like Technology like AI, Hyper Automation, platforms, 5G, Low Code-No Code, Digital Twins, Met averse, Block chain, Cloud & Edge etc. Each of these technologies are bound to have a long term impact of financial services ecosystem. Open Banking is gaining a lot of traction in recent times, where we are seeing that the data and consent architecture are democratized. We at Kotak created our own Open Banking system five years back and gave access to different APIs, partners and large corporates for integrating their ERP.

On the other hand, we are witnessing AI being embedded into every task we do. Generative AI is now being used extensively to build more conversational marketing and communication engines that can be better personalized. Blockchain-based solutions are now enabling us to secure every password-less authentication. Each of these niche technologies are being used widely across various banking functions to create value for our customers through innovation and modernization.