The Accelerating Popularity of Automation in Banking Due to COVID-19

By Sankhadeep Chakraborty . June 15, 2021 . Blogs

COVID-19 has completely transformed life as we know it.

The impact on the banking sector is particularly enormous, especially as businesses struggle to survive, employees struggle to keep their jobs, and markets struggle to cope with the sudden change in trends.Financial institutions looking to keep their head above the water need to carefully, but quickly, evaluate, react, and plan for current and future actions to address key implications of the crisis.

One of the first steps that are needed is digitization. Banks and other financial institutions realized that with digitisation, they could more easily adapt to the growing concept of remote working, especially as employees struggle to ensure productivity – given their limited training and experience in the concept of work from home.

Also, as banks store large amounts of sensitive information that employees constantly need to access, ensuring secure access to this data in a remote setup is extremely important to enhance operational efficiency, improve productivity, and accelerate time to value.

In these challenging times, automation is playing a critical role in ensuring efficient functioning as well as business continuity.

The impact of the pandemic has been extremely far-reaching

As countries went into unprecedented lockdowns, shut businesses, job losses, and reduced incomes led to one of the worst economic fallouts of all time.

India – like hundreds of other countries – suffered a severe blow, with the financial, real estate, and professional services industries bearing the largest brunt at an estimated loss of 17.3% between April and June 2020. The impact of the pandemic not only brought the economies of several developed countries to a screeching halt; it also set the clock backward for several developing nations.

For banks, the sudden change in the operating model, the rise in defaults, the growing risk of cybersecurity, shrinking margins, and liquidity pressures are causing a lot of turmoil. In this uncertain environment, banks have realized that their current systems and workflows that have worked in the past – are incapable of coping up with this dramatic pace of change.

Manual payments and traditional techniques that result in long (and erroneous) approval chains can no longer be employed. What banks need is to re-strategise their approach to streamline their internal processes and minimise the risks associated with the COVID-19 crisis.

How automation can help banks deal with the magnitude of the pandemic

As the world grapples with an economic fallout, retail banks are finding themselves in the midst of an overhaul. Responding to changing needs requires them to take some concrete steps for repositioning for the current scenario while recalibrating for the future. The need to take immediate action has led to accelerating the popularity of automation that is helping banks and other financial institutions deal with the pandemic head-on and continue to meet the needs of the distressed customers.

In a COVID era, intelligent automation can be a game-changer for financial business operation.It is expected that almost 25% of banking activities might be automated in the next couple of years.

From contact centre automation, to document management, claims processing, internal back-office functions, customer onboarding, fraud detection and more – automation can help organisations address their current needs. It can also aid in delivering a better customer experience by promoting employees from being data gatherers to data users. It can help banks and other financial institutions to carry out day-to-day operations with increased precision and limited disruption.

Here are some benefits automation can bring to the banking sector during (and long after) the pandemic:

  • Reduce manual efforts and errors: The pandemic has caused several catastrophic ripples across the banking sector. For businesses taking slow and painstaking efforts in getting back to normal, there is no room for error. Intelligent automation can help banks reduce manual efforts needed to carry out day-to-day operations – while improving employee and customer experience all along the way. Using automation, employees can drastically bring down the time taken for manual, paper-based processing, and rescue back-office operations from needless expenses and errors.
  • Ensure data privacy: While adapting to a Work From Home model, banks need to be able to ensure the security and privacy of sensitive data being shared via corporate and home networks. Those who fail to do so can be at the receiving end of reputational risks, compliance costs, and more. Automation using bots can enable banks to mask sensitive data, or eliminate it completely if needed, safeguarding data privacy. Bots can also be used to track employee actions in real-time and identify the minute when sensitive information is being accessed or shared.
  • Achieve time and cost savings: Banks, like organisations in other sectors, have lost a lot of customers, employees, and business since the beginning of the pandemic. The sudden decline in customers has compelled many banks to lay off their employees. The cycle has been extremely vicious, to say the least. By automating key tasks such as claims processing and other back-office operations, banks can complete jobs faster, and meet customer needs in time. With this, they can also save humongous costs in hiring new staff, making workarounds, and lost customers.
  • Respond with agility and precision: Given how vulnerable banks have become due to an unpredictable fluctuating market, it is critical for them to be able to respond to this changing environment with increased agility. Call centres are flooded with calls, and the limited number of agents means increased wait times and/or staff burnout. Automation can help in extracting the right data, filing entries, performing complex calculations, preparing reports and more, allowing agents to respond quickly to worried customers while reducing their workload and stress levels.

Establish the right pillars for Intelligent Automation

Although the business landscape has seen worse days as COVID-19 peaked, the pandemic is far from over.As the crisis continues to impact different developed and developing nations, it is important for banks to embrace technologies like automation across their enterprise.

Integration, robotic process automation, AI, and business process management all play a crucial role in ensuring successful automation of the business process. Establishing the right pillars for intelligent automation is the only way banks can synchronise their digitised process, remove dependencies, streamline the decision-making process flow, and improve the agility and respond to customer needs and market fluctuations.

Sankhadeep Chakraborty

Sankhadeep heads the engineering arm in Verinite. He has been associated with the BFSI domain from the start of his career. He is a hardcore techie and innovation drives him. He believes in the saying "Nothing is impossible"

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