Technology has been a major disruptor in the way banking was done just a few years ago. We now have access to a broad range of more modern and quick banking solutions. The majority of financial transactions are now made online, through mobile wallets, paying bills electronically, and other means. Financial institutions need to anticipate change and be agile enough to thrive in it. The ability to push compute-heavy processes to the cloud was a major breakthrough. It was no longer essential to run a server farm on-site in order to handle a large number of transactions.
We spoke to Mandar Agashe, Founder, Managing Director & Vice Chairman, Sarvatra Technologies, about current trends in banking space, cloud infrastructure and more. Mandar is also music director, and former musician, and that's how he keeps work-life balance. Excerpts from an interviews:
Could you please start with the brief of your company?
Mandar Agashe: Sarvatra Technologies is one of the leading payments platform in the country, where we provide different types of payment platforms like UPI and IMPS. And the basic debit card to more than 650 banks in the country. When it comes to UPI, we provide it to more than 200 banks in the country, starting from very large bank, like ICICI bank to a very small bank in small parts of a state.
What technology trends in banking space you are seeing nowadays?
Mandar Agashe: The technology trend, mainly, we see our customers; the banks, want a more flexible platform. Cloud is a very good way forward, where more and more customers would want a cloud-based infrastructure is what we feel that's a trend.
At the outset, what was the business problem you were facing and how Oracle Cloud helped?
Mandar Agashe: Once a bank shifts from their on-premise to a cloud, they want something reliable, which can scale. But most important is security. So the cost goes down with cloud, and it becomes scalable, but security, reliability, uptime, all these things become very important. Oracle which has deep understanding of databases, and the whole hardware, exadata and all that it brings in that confidence that a bank requires. A bank requires a far more reliable infrastructure. And that's what exactly Oracle Cloud provides.
What are the critical benefits you have noticed?
Mandar Agashe: Because of their very deep understanding of technology, we knew that their cloud will come ready with many things that we require, especially on the database side, or in the hardware side. When we migrate our software to Oracle Cloud, we knew it would be an easier path for us as a technology company.
And for a bank, it is very easy because there have many management tools, where they get many MIS and other things that is required, to help them manage their whole infrastructure better.
Did you undergo to change any skills, skill set and the work culture in your team?
Mandar Agashe: Cloud has its migration path, but because were on Oracle technology earlier, it was a smooth migration for us. That was the big advantage. Also, Oracle gives the necessary teams to help our team also to migrate. So we found it very easy and the migration path was very well thought of. There is a personal support, they provide more insight, have quicker solutions or training on anything new that you bring in. So that kind of interactive and a very deep support is available.
How long it took you to transform the journey, going to the cloud?
Mandar Agashe: I think it was quite a simple process. First we migrated our disaster recovery center to Oracle Cloud because that gives us lot of flexibility in terms of increasing the capacity or reducing it and like that and making sure all the systems were. Right now as we speak our main EFT switching services are running on DR but we are sitting here peacefully and it’s fine, the whole migration path was just one quarter. It was less than three months.
What are the challenges you were aiming to address with the cloud and they got sorted out immediately?
Mandar Agashe: It’s is the elasticity and flexibility, we could increase and decrease the infrastructure as and when required. That was the first goal to see whether that happens, and how what in say… the whole robustness of the entire system. So these are the two challenges which we had, which we could get satisfied.
And what about the cost?
Mandar Agashe: The cost is dependent on how much we use, that's the best part. So if in few months, suppose we use more, we pay more, if it’s less we pay less. The flexibility of pricing is very good, and there is a complete transparency and there are no hidden costs. We get to know in advance, what capacity we are provisioned and how much the billing is going to be.
Is there some kind of best practices you would like to share with the people who are facing the same thing in migration?
Mandar Agashe: I would say that they should start off with their initially the non-critical systems, and then slowly shift to their critical system so that they also know how it works. So always start with your non-critical system so that everyone knows what is going on. And then you can shift to critical systems.
What are your organizational goals around the technology advancements?
Mandar Agashe: Our own goal is to ensure that whatever we are doing now scales to the huge requirement of growing transactions. As you know UPI has grown from a few 1000 transaction to a few lakh transactions in a minute. So as that scales, our organization goal is to create such softwares which can scale very rapidly. While we do it on the software side, they will also need an infrastructure also who is equally fast. Organizational goal is to make that system even, like many folds faster than what it is today. And it can scale even faster from there.
Will you call yourself a cloud company?
Mandar Agashe: We are completely cloud. All our customers are cloud. We have been on our own private cloud. Now we have a hybrid cloud, private cloud in OCI. So we are India’s first cloud company where our entire deployment is on cloud. We have been on cloud for last 12 years, and being on Cloud really helped all our banks use the software very easy.
What are the expectation of technology advancement in banking space?
Mandar Agashe: As you have seen in most of the places, AI ML will be the next big thing. How AI can be used by banks to crunch so much of data and come out with easier solutions to their customers. So AI and machine learning, these two will be the future.