FY 2017-18 was a significant year for YES BANK. The year saw them launching several initiatives, all of which aimed to enable the bank scale up faster, and make the transition to providing ‘Banking-as – a –Service (BaaS)’ – essentially linking financial services to every stage of a customer’s life. Some of these initiatives included working on intelligent chatbots which could not only answer queries but also lay the foundation for transactions, to using blockchain for corporate banking, to becoming one of the first bank to implement UPI for digital payments.
A significant step for the bank was also to lay a massive foundation for its AI journey through setting up of an Enterprise Data Warehouse, enabling distributed files storage. While for years financial institutions have harped on KYC – Know Your Customer – the bank believes that these changes would accelerate the usage of this data beyond compliance and risk analytics and become a truly data driven organisation.
“I think our journey to emerge as a technology driven bank started from inception. However, the time for being truly data-driven has come at an opportune moment owing to three factors. First our concerted focus on retail customers meant a manifold increase in data volumes. Second, both data management and analytics technology have moved from buzz to biz and distributed file systems, commodity servers and cloud compute have finally began to hit their stride and third is increase in data sources from voice to social media,” says Anup Purohit, CIO, YES BANK.
The CIO believes that integrating these new-age technologies will bring in agility and quality innovation in areas such as new business acquisition, enhanced customer satisfaction, new channels for customer interactions and increased productivity/ efficiencies
YES BANK’s AI journey
“Being data-driven was always a necessity and not a choice for most organisations, especially those in financial services. We did face a major dilemma though since most of the applications of emerging technologies like AI, Blockchain and even Big Data were seen in technology intensive industries – should we take the leap or be a ‘fast follower?’. This is where our A.R.T philosophy of collaborative innovations came to our aid – we decided to reach out to some of our global banking peers and Indian leaders across industries like e-commerce and understand their journey and motivations,” explains Anup
Since then, the bank has invested massively on scalable solutions like Hadoop to leverage on commodity servers as opposed to specialised hardware results in quantum cost savings on the infrastructure alone which is required to analyse these large data sets – and lay the foundation for a successful AI journey
Building on this, the bank has already implemented a number of AI-driven initiatives. This includes an AI-enabled personal banking assistant and chat bots to disburse information on loan products, etc. Their AI journey began with a goal of bringing in process optimisation and soon segued into experimentation on products, services and technology to offer unique customer experience. They have also started a collaborative co-creation community of data scientists and ML engineers to co-create AI products.
YES RoBOT is YES BANK’s AI enabled Personal Banking Assistant that allows customers to make financial transactions. It helps users with 20+ banking services and 2,000+ banking queries. YES ROBOT has many disruptive industry-first features that significantly differentiate it from other bank bots. This includes features that enable customers to send money, check their balance, recharge their phone, pay bills, check recent transactions and do a host of other banking transactions, get real time assistance in locating the nearest branch/ATM, the ability for customers to apply for products.
Intelligent Process Automation through Robotics
This solution automates the process of salary processing for corporate clients via YES Corporate Salary Payment Transfers through an effective use of Advanced Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and RPA technology.
In addition, YES BANK is also experimenting on Machine Learning systems that will be able to flag fraudulent transactions in real-time, generate alerts and prevent such attacks in real time including in cases of money laundering, upselling, cross-selling banking products, etc. And, helping YES BANK further its AI journey are four startups – Rupeeseed, FRS Labs, Karza and Pingal.
Though the YES FINTECH accelerator programme, YES BANK has in-sourced solutions and is working closely with the four startups to address a number of challenges and opportunities.
Being well-prepped for the future
Given the rapid changes on the technology front, the bank has adopted a two-pronged strategy to keep pace with the trends.
The first part of the strategy focuses on re-engineering its technology development processes by moving away from outsourcing technology requirements and creating dedicated technology development verticals – through alliances as well as creating in-house team of data science professionals and full stack developers.
Also in keeping with its maxim that ‘ all innovation cannot come from within’ the bank has also actively engaged the data science community – setting up a unique ecosystem of leaders and learners to collaboratively co-create AI led innovations – YES Datathon.
The initiative launched with an aim of crowdsourcing innovation , already has 6000+ data scientists on the platform with 200 + actively working on AI led products, across diverse use cases. The first season of the initiative is now in its last stage with a product showcase of 20 AI/ML products lined up on December 22 and 23, 2018 in Bengaluru.
The bank is also in the process of setting up a Centre of Excellence for Digital Transformation (CoE), API Sandbox and leveraging initiatives like YES FINTECH and YES SCALE business accelerators to explore strategic partnerships.
The Centre of Excellence for Digital Transformation (CoE) is being set up to galvanise all digital transformation efforts across emerging technology like Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, to enable the bank reimagine its products and services. The API Sandbox will give the bank’s Fintech partners, startups, developers and tech firms access to selected APIs of YES BANK in a controlled testing environment where the responses are not from the live environment but are mirrored (duplicated) as if they are from the bank’s application systems. The API Sandbox would inherently allow developers to understand, evaluate, integrate and test the mirrored data from APIs to develop custom solutions. The bank plans to go live with the API sandbox early next year.
With these and several other initiatives, YES BANK continues to work towards the larger goal of, “becoming the Technology Company in the Business of Banking,” signs off Anup.
This article is part of the thought leadership articles in collaboration with LogMeIn. The series features prominent founders or C-Suite leaders from renowned firms talking about how they are working with AI to successfully transform their business. Take a look at some of the other articles from the series