Edited Excerpts: The way the banking sector has dealt with the pandemic has been impressive. For them to keep operations with skeletal staff in the office and yet be able to provide a significant number of services has been remarkable.
Many targets got missed, be it growth, lending, or expansion. Everyone missed it. Many institutions have created a new set of targets as the world before and after the pandemic has changed. Today, it has given a tremendous amount of fillip to digital adoption in financial services. Moreover, it has provided an immense opportunity to differentiate from one another and how they operate in the market by more digital adoption, further by enabling and facilitating customers to do business with them. That is where I would believe banks did exceptionally well and banks that didn’t move.
Banks need to focus more on the customer experience journey on digital platforms. There’s a tremendous amount of work that can be done online, but a huge demand still exists for a lot of paperwork and physical processes. All of that has an incredible opportunity to get automated. Many institutions still do a simple thing like KYC in a paper form format. Similarly, there are many more areas where banks can embark on adopting digital. Banks are today flushed with a tremendous amount of money.
Still, I think they have also become risk-averse, which has led to the proliferation of NBFCs who are all willing to identify customers, do risk profiling and lend at a higher rate. They also have a better mechanism of reaching out to customers and collections infrastructure. This is one area clearly where the banking sector needs to step up.
Many SMEs might not qualify the risk filters, but they are not always necessarily defaulters; how these banks engage with them, educate them, and lend them is where banks can play up their game and create a mark. In 2022, I see payments as a frontier where banks will continue to ensure that they go through them instead of payment service providers.
The greater the velocity, the greater the money the bank earns, and customers remain sticky. If the bank’s UPI app works seamlessly, customers will stick with them. The second trend is about going paperless and avoiding paperless to become a digital kind of bank.
Banks will also continue to acquire a large customer base, and finally, we need to view how the central bank and other regulators see cryptocurrency and blockchain adoption.