Software Robotics and Artificial Intelligence are revolutionizing the banking and insurance industry. Digital transformation is leading to massive scaling up and improvements in efficiency. And India’s banking and insurance sector is not the one to be left behind. ICICI Bank, a leading financial institution of India, has taken the lead for automation and software robotics. The bank now employs 750 software robots, which carry out 20 lakh transactions daily (This has more than doubled the number of transactions processed earlier through the robots). Moreover, software robotics has reduced response time for customers by up to 60 per cent and increased accuracy up to 100 per cent, leading to marked improvements in the bank’s productivity as well as its ability to handle scale, claim its officials.
“Error rates in processes have come down close to zero, productivity has improved, and it has enabled us to become scale agnostic. Moving away from the manual processes has helped our employees ensure that processes are designed correctly and fallouts are handled quickly. Employees are thus able to focus on more customer service functions,” says Anita Pai, senior general manager and head of operations at ICICI Bank India.
“Most of the robotics is to manage voluminous repetitive processes efficiently. Sometimes, banking operations require a lot of information to be moved from one application to another. These are the type of operations which software robotics platform has helped us simplify. For example, it has helped us with demographic data validation thereby ensuring consistency across various operations. We plan to reduce turnaround time for customers and automate another .4 million transactions on an annual basis.”
Giving out some relevant use cases for the banking and financial industry, Pai says: One pertinent use case is the 15G/H certificate that every senior citizen needs to submit at the beginning of a financial year. The time for submission is April and May, so volumes go up in that period. When a customer submits it, it is the duty of Operations to ensure all holdings are covered. When a customer hands over the certificate, the bank scans and sends it to the Operations through an internal application. The software robotics platform checks core banking to ensure all deposits are covered.
When asked about any other use cases, Pai spoke about the portability of accounts. She said: “For example, a customer opens an account in a specific branch. Their address changes and they would like to shift account to a branch closer to them. This normally needed a number of checks prior to porting. We have to ensure that nothing is missed out or lapsed. Earlier, the operations staff had to go through a series of checkpoints and the process was prone to error. Through the software robotics, these functions are performed quickly and without error.”
ICICI Bank’s Journey of Artificial Intelligence and Software Robotics
ICICI Bank, one of India’s major financial institutions, started its automation journey in 2016. It was one of the first private lenders to adopt software robotics on such a large scale. Using robotic process automation (RPA), the bank’s operations department deployed 200 robotics software programs. The development helped the ICICI Bank process around 10 lakh transactions per day. Today, the program is helping process more than 2 million transactions daily.
“We are using these software robots across different operations and LoBs including retail, wholesale banking, forex, treasury, agro, international operations, human resources management, and private banking. Most of the robots deployed have been developed in house,” she added.
ICICI Bank is also leveraging the latest advancements in the field of artificial intelligence such as natural language processing, cognitive tools, machine learning, optical character recognition, data analytics and bots. Citing an example, Pai says the bank’s Artificial Intelligence-led engine has been helpful in international remittance operations, reducing query time from around 12 hours to near real time.
“Earlier, when customers would remit money from international locations to India, there was a lot of anxiety and they would write to us asking for the status. As it was manually handled, it would take an average of 12 hours to get back to the customer. Now, our AI-driven engine reads the mail, processes it through the system, culls the information and replies to the customer in near real time.”
ICICI Bank is also using chatbots to handle customer queries, ranging from answering questions to leading a customer to the source of information on the website. This has benefited both the employees and the customers.