This FinTech company has made it possible for you to open a bank account in under 7 minutes

With the current trends in the banking industry, Fintech firms can expect to grow more than 100% y-o-y, said S.Sundararajan - Executive Director, at i-exceed.
This FinTech company has made it possible for you to open a bank account in under 7 minutes
This FinTech company has made it possible for you to open a bank account in under 7 minutes
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For all of us who want to open a bank account, the conventional process involves filling up a lengthy form, attaching a photograph, and signing it before it goes to different departments for approval. The entire process could take up to a week or more and card activation could take even longer. 

However, CANDI – Canara Bank’s fully digital banking branch in Bengaluru and the first of its kind in India, has come up with a revolutionary concept; the entire process of opening a new bank account using Aadhaar can be completed within seven minutes. Biometric authentication, iris scan, or an OTP is used to authenticate the onboarding process. Mobile and Internet banking services are activated instantaneously with e-pins and at the end of the onboarding process, the customer receives a personalized bank card (Master, Visa, or Rupay) customized with an image of their choice.  

The company that has powered CANDI is i-exceed, a digital transformation partner for leading financial institutions. Based out of Bengaluru, i-exceed has offices in India, Singapore, US, and UAE.

S.Sundararajan, Executive Director at i-Exceed has more than 25 years of experience primarily focused on the delivery of banking and financial solutions. He spoke to TNM on several aspects - CANDI, the government’s Digital India programme, and future developments in the banking sector.   

Here are excerpts from the interview. 

Could you tell us a little bit about CANDI, the state-of-the-art customer touch point that has become operational in Canara Bank? 

I think CANDI by Canara Bank is a fantastic achievement. I don’t think any other bank, private, public, or foreign has managed to do this before. Within 7 minutes of entering the Aadhaar number, a customer can open a new account and walk out with an active and personalised debit card. Canara Bank is now looking at implementing the same in more branches across the country. They have done a great job in launching kiosk banking and more importantly, delivering a fantastic user experience. I think this clearly sets an example for other banks and we can expect a lot more people to follow suit. In my view, this is the way forward. 

How does India compare with other countries in terms of implementing something like CANDI in banks? 

In other counties, banks have fully leveraged the power of mobile banking and in many cases, they’ve had digital branch banking. But, kiosk banking that has been implemented in India is pretty unique, even by global standards. The reason for this is that the KYC (know your customer) part is authenticated real time using Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)’s Aadhaar, and this greatly simplifies the KYC process. Of course, the rest of it is an investment. 

How does a technology like CANDI align with the government’s Digital India vision?

The Government of India has come up with initiatives such as Digital India and demonetisation that have popularized digital payments. Since then, there has been an increased adoption in apps for carrying out digital banking transactions. Also, the government has made Aadhaar mandatory for several transactions. In response to this, we have integrated Aadhaar based authentication in our platform and solutions. When someone comes and gives their Aadhaar number, we are able to authenticate them using their biometrics. Also, now banks are adopting devices with iris-scan for authenticating their customers. With the government’s push for digital transactions, customers are increasingly opting to use digital money. In response to this trend, we are now making offerings that help customers get the best out of technology. So, the government push is actually helping us; reason being - all banks, whether small, big, or mid-size are now forced to move to digital and that’s where we come in. 

In terms of financial inclusion, how can banks integrate the unbanked effectively into the system and help them avail the benefits of a system like CANDI? 

With financial inclusion becoming a government mandate and moves like demonetisation sweeping across the country, more and more people are getting included into the system with a digital approach to banking from the word go. And this phenomenon is prevalent whether the banks are PSUs or private in nature.

To support these initiatives, we as a FinTech company are making digital banking solutions simpler to use with the introduction of AI-based features such as chatbots (conversational banking). To make things simpler, banks are using plugins for multilingual support so that customers can engage with the bank in the language of their choice.

To avail services such as subsidies, loan, and many others, one needs to have a bank account. For the same reason, the government has asked the unbanked populace to open a bank account. This is the first step by the government. The second is use of technology; some banks are employing tablets in their lobbies; the idea being, when a customer walks in, the bank staff can take them to one of those tablets that are loaded with the bank’s apps and get them familiarised with the self-service approach of digital banking. 

If you take micro-finance institutions, their agents go to the customer’s location with a tablet. They go to the location of their target audience, mostly villages and small towns and perform transactions right in front of the customer. They normally carry devices that facilitate biometric authentication so that customer authentication can be done on the spot. This serves two purposes – One, you extend your products and services beyond the four walls of your bank right to the doorstep of your customer. Two, you educate your customer to perform banking using technology.

Also, the proliferation of social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook has played a great role in making people tech savvy and mentally prepared for a digital revolution.

With digitisation generating so much online data, what are your concerns over data security? 

It is true that the digitisation wave is generation tons of user data. However, the government is taking a lot of initiatives to address the concerns over data security because the more digital we get, the more hackers are trying to access customer data. Thwarting hackers is a never-ending process because as systems evolve, so will the loopholes in them.

For example, if you look at Aadhaar, there are specific agencies that are entrusted with the security of data. The idea of enrolling 1.2 billion people under an identification scheme is a mammoth task and it calls for extremely secure and robust systems. To address this, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is bringing about regulations to ensure security and integrity of data as much as possible. Customers can link their bank account with their Aadhaar number and get constant updates on any account related activity. This kind of feature is not present in many countries. 

Today, a lot of banks have already taken a host of measures for fraud prevention. For example, if a transaction is carried out beyond a certain limit, it is kept on hold till the bank verifies its authenticity. 

As a service provider, we need to constantly update the checks and balances in place to ensure security; whether it is multiple forms of biometric authorisation or any other method. That is why a synergy between banks and FinTech is essential for overall growth.

Irrespective of what type of biometric authentication data we have, we need to keep updating it. And going forward, data threats are only going to increase. That’s where we as a solution provider bring in checks and balances. When we give a solution to a bank, we give them a list of do’s and don’ts. 

What kind of developments do you foresee in the banking sector in the coming years? 

Banks now have started addressing customers’ demands for more engaging experiences with digital banking. If more banks adopt kiosk-based digital engagement models, it will definitely reduce paperwork and branch workload.

Another area of development is digital transformation. Essentially, many banks still follow a manual paper-based approach where documents move from one desk to another for approval.  Automation and digitisation would iron out these problems but to see them implemented in full swing, would take some time. 

In the near future, you will see more banks replicating what you have seen at CANDI. While opening a bank account in less than seven minutes would still seem a feat for a lot of banks in many countries, this is what most banks should aspire to reach, if they hope to deliver cutting-edge self-service experiences. 

A recent trend we are observing now is the increasing adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) in the form of conversational banking, chatbots, and machine learning systems. Digital systems are learning from customer behavior patterns and banks are accordingly doing their best to provide contextually relevant products and services. 

With the kind of opportunities that exist, this space is expected to grow over 100% year-on-year and that is a huge opportunity waiting to be tapped.  

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