How is Automation Enabling the Banking Sector A robot can work 24/7 and replace up to eight employees, without asking for days off or a hike, say industry experts

By Santhosh Mahalingam

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The world is at the apex of a digital revolution and proliferation of latest technologies. With the rapid adoption and usage of these emerging technologies, it is safe to say that the age of automation is upon us.

Typically perceived as a conservative industry, the financial service sector has undergone radical changes over the last few years. Given the prevalence of several labour-intensive processes in the banking industry, it is unsurprising that the sector has been leading in welcoming automation solutions.

The escalation of digital devices has led to a paradigm shift in the way customers prefer to interact with their banks. In response, banks are increasingly moving towards adopting the digital blocks of what we call as "ABCD of Digital Technologies", A for Artificial Intelligence and Robotic Process Automation, B for Big-data and Advanced Analytics, C for Cloud computing and D for Devices in several processes including KYC (Know Your Customer) procedure, cross-border payments, trade finance and smart contracts.

Blockchain- At its most basic, Blockchain refers to transactions (the "blocks') stored in a public database (the "chain'). It enables comprehensive transparency of transaction tracking due to its "track-n-trace" nature.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)- AI (Also Machine Intelligence and ML) is intelligence displayed by machines, in contrast with the natural intelligence (NI) displayed by humans and other animals. At the heart of the AI revolution are machine learning algorithms, software that self- improves as it is fed more and more data, a trend which is increasingly benefitting financial institutions.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) - Robotic Process Automation refers to software that can be easily programmed to do basic tasks across applications just as human workers do. It is fast emerging as a highly efficient way to help financial institutions support their digital transformation, enabling various processes to become a lot simpler.

Together these technological advancements are helping banks to thrive in the ever-changing environment.

Automation is the key to the future

Automation has provided financial institutions with a personalized platform which drives the better and timely execution of all processes related to banking.

Back office automation secret to better banking

Automation has also proved to be a real game changer for back office procedures. Often they have thousands of people processing customer requests which are both costly and slow and can lead to inconsistent outcomes and a high error rate. Automation offers solutions that can help cut down on time for back-office processing.

The basic nature of "ABCD of digital technologies" is such that many captive banks have adopted these technologies with relative ease into their existing environment. While these technologies bring disruption, they don't cause destruction. These banks encourage the two-dimensional impact on their business; firstly, Customer Experience and secondly, Cost Efficiency, which is why automation is being implemented relatively faster. The increasing use of Cloud computing is gaining popularity due to the speed at which both the AI & Big-data solutions can be brought together for businesses. Use of mobile devices across all sections of consumers has encouraged back offices to explore options to bring in Device independence to their customers as well as for staff members.

Improved Customer Experience

Automation promises better customer experience through a dramatic speed of decision making, elimination of wait time and comprehensive transaction tracking.

The key to advanced Fraud Detection

By deploying an automated fraud anomaly detection program, banks can increase the accuracy of credit card fraud detection and anti-money laundering.

Revolutionizing Risk Management

Customized products can be offered to clients by looking at historical data, doing risk analysis, and eliminating human errors from manually-handled models.

Providing Security

Suspicious behaviour and spurious emails can be tracked down to prevent and possibly predict security breaches.


Image/face recognition using real-time camera images and advanced AI techniques such as deep learning can be used at ATMs to detect and prevent frauds/crimes.

In an industry that is constantly looking to enhance the consumer banking experience, reduce risk and comply with regulations, and increase great efficiencies around key customer-centric processes, automation is already being put to use across many banks.

Santhosh Mahalingam

Managing Director - Mashreq Global Services

With more than 22 years of retail banking experience, Mahalingam’s multiple areas of expertise span operations, projects, finance, process engineering, digitization and general management. He has a proven track record of managing large cross-cultural and cross-border teams, exceeding targets, and improving operational efficiencies through transformation and digitisation. Before joining Mashreq in 2014, he held senior positions at Standard Chartered Bank, Qatar National Bank, and Standard Chartered Scope International where he headed Consumer Banking Operations and Change Delivery.

Mahalingam has a bachelor’s degree in commerce from St. Joseph’s College, Calicut, and an MBA in finance and marketing from the University Of Calicut, India. He is also a qualified Executive Coach (PCC) and Certified NLP Practioner.

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