For Kerala-based South Indian Bank, digital is the foundation for innovation and future-ready banking. The bank’s unique digital initiatives like branchless banking for rural India and Digital E-lounges with account opening kiosks have become considerably popular among its customers across segments. Raphael T J, Chief General Manager & CIO, South Indian Bank, goes into detail.Could you highlight SIB’s business momentum and growth strategy for the coming year and beyond? We’ve seen robust growth in most parameters, and we’ll continue this momentum. Our business is very technology driven and our growth strategy will continue to be focused on expanding the retail business, strengthening SME base, improving CASA, enhancing Asset quality and improving other income facilitated by Best in class technology adoption. We’ve been able to successfully widen our network across India with 927 Branches and 1322 ATMs. We’ve seen a growth of 131 percent in Mobile Banking, our Internet Banking has also seen a significant rise (35 percent growth in Corporate sector and 25 percent growth in Retail sector). Overall, FY 2018-19 was a good year, given the headwinds faced by the Banking industry in general. In short, we’re very bullish on growth in FY 20.Tell us about your digital transformation journey. We’ve tried to better streamline our focus on innovation and digital transformation. As part of this, we’ve set up a Digital Banking department and IT Operations department. Our Digital Banking department has been focusing on innovation, improvement and implementation of major projects on the digital front viz. ATM, Net Banking, Mobile Banking and other emerging technologies such as Blockchain, AI/ML etc.What was the process you followed to rollout branchless banking? How have customers responded? SIB has adopted the concept of branchless banking for financial inclusion to cater to needs of rural India. The solution utilizes handheld devices with biometric authentication and AePS (Aadhaar Enabled Payment System). Business Correspondents (BCs) are able to perform On-us and Off-us transactions of any Indian citizen whose Aadhar is linked to their bank account. BCs are able to connect to bank’s AePS software by means of dual authentication(Password &Fingerprint authentication) and service customers. This service model has been well received by our customers, as not only our customers but customers from other banks are also utilizing these services.We also launched Digital E-lounges, which provide access to account opening kiosks, cash recycling machines and cheque deposit machines. We have received positive response from our customers around these services and will continue to enable more such apt services closer to our customers.AI, blockchain and chatbots: how do you expect this trio to shape the future of Indian banking? We’re already seeing a rise in adoption levels of AI/ML and chatbots in India, especially in the areas of automation and grievance redressal. More and more use cases of AI/ML are getting identified every other day.Blockchain is really promising, especially when it comes to securing data and keeping it as current/fresh as possible via real-time updates. With blockchain, it’s more an ecosystem play rather than a technology play. Once the ecosystem for blockchain matures, there will be widespread adoption. We foresee a good number of use cases for financial transactions where blockchain can become the game-changer.What are the key technology platforms that the bank is relying on and what does your future technology roadmap look like? We’ve had a very successful, long-term partnership with Oracle. We rely on strategic technology partners to empower us with next-gen cloud services and innovative offerings, which we can then leverage to offer a superior banking experience to our customers, while also improving our operational efficiencies and reducing costs even further. One recent example is our use of Oracle Digital Assistant (ODA), Oracle’s intelligent conversational AI service to streamline query management and fast-track response time.Going forward, we are planning to explore autonomous IT with products like Oracle’s Autonomous Database. With their new Gen 2 Cloud region launched recently in India, we intend to explore more cloud services for specific use cases.Get access to India’s fastest growing financial subscriptions service Moneycontrol Pro for as little as Rs 599 for first year. Use the code “GETPRO”. Moneycontrol Pro offers you all the information you need for wealth creation including actionable investment ideas, independent research and insights & analysis For more information, check out the Moneycontrol website or mobile app.