How Indian BFSI firms are leading the next wave of digital innovation

Indian banking players are leading the charge of digital innovation by integrating social mediums with their banking services

As a country with the largest youth population, India is undoubtedly one of the biggest markets for every firm. If you are a financial services firm, you would want to influence this segment by being present in places where the youth is present, or be an integral part of their lives by embedding yourself in the platforms that the youth uses. This includes platforms like Facebook, which is used by a majority of young Indians.

Not surprisingly, Indian banking players are leading the charge of digital innovation by integrating social mediums with their banking services. ICICI Bank, for example, recently launched a Twitter-based banking service, which enables its customers to transfer money to anyone in the country who has a Twitter account. Incidentally, ICICI Bank was also the first to launch a Facebook application that allows customers to perform banking transactions directly from the social network.

Kotak Mahindra Bank too has launched Jifi Saver, a social banking account that can be managed using Twitter and Facebook. Kotak was also the first bank to launch KayPay, the world’s first bank agnostic payment product for Facebook users to send money to each other instantly.

Insurance players are also extensively using tablets to enable their surveyors to instantly capture images, fill in the necessary information and immediately sync information to a central server to process a claim. ICICI Lombard, has gone one step ahead, and has launched an app that empowers customers to intimate a claim of their vehicle through their mobile phones. Customers can click pictures of the damaged parts and send it to the firm and record and upload the incident description in his/her voice through the app.

This is an example of innovation as it ensures that customers collect necessary evidence in terms of images and audio records and transmit it instantaneously to the claims office, thus ensuring faster claim process.

As financial products and services are quickly getting commoditized, firms in the BFSI sector are in a hotly contested race to win the mindshare of the customer. For example, understanding that working individuals cannot be restricted to the fixed working hours of a bank, ICICI has setup an automated electronic branches that allow customers the flexibility to transact at the time of their convenience for daily banking needs. Indian banks like ING Vysya Bank are also experimenting with new technologies like gamification, wearable technologies and iBeacons to enhance customer experience.

By capitalizing on two big emerging trends – mobility and social, Indian BFSI firms have smartly exploited them to their advantage. As banks cannot be present at all physical locations, they are using the reach of social platforms like Facebook and the ubiquitous mobile device to be always accessible to the customer. A quote by late Management guru and respected thinker, CK Prahlad best embodies the line of thinking by Indian firms, ‘Strategy is about stretching limited resources to fulfill ambitious aspirations.’

By using technology to deliver personalized experiences, Indian BFSI firms have truly changed the economics of branch banking. For example, who would have thought years back that a bank will come to your home to open your account. Times are changing fast, and who knows, in a few years from now, a bank may not even have a physical address.