Challenges and opportunities go hand-in-hand. While implementing technology solutions during COVID-19 outbreak, at a massive scale, has been a challenge, the appreciation of the IT/ Technology department, especially from the top management, has been the opportunity. Whilst, earlier the Technology spend was looked at as an expense, now the top management appreciates the benefits of having sound technology enablement, says Neeraj Chandra, Executive Vice President & Head, Operations & Technology, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, in an interview with Elets News Network (ENN).
- COVID outbreak has brought several significant changes across industries. How, in particular, have the banks changed?
Banks have changed, but the more they have changed, the more they have stayed the same.
Due to COVID, Banks have had to implement changes almost overnight to enable both Customers and Employees to conduct transactions safely. Although a lot was already available – Cheque drop box, ATM, Mobile and Internet Banking, IMPS, UPI, Cards etc. for customers, the norm for Employees was to work primarily from the Office. Enabling Employees to do most of the activities safely from home has been nevertheless, a big challenge, not only for security reasons. There was a logistic challenge as well – ensuring that Employees have a safe computer at home with stable Internet. In a number of cases, computers had to be delivered to the homes of employees.
Discouraging entry of Customers into branches has also been a challenge. Even when customers visit the Branches, except for critical activities like cash withdrawal or KYC updates, they are encouraged to use Drop boxes.
Bank Branches, which used to be buzzing with people and customers, are now empty.
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Rostering of Employees to ensure only the bare minimum attend office on a rotational basis is a norm now. Running the Call centres and Back office has been possible through technology, though it is also fraught with increased risk as people work from home. Access to the secured networks had to be enabled from home, thereby increasing the End points significantly.
- What opportunities, in terms of technology, you see for banks during this crisis?
Challenges and opportunities go hand-in-hand. While implementing technology solutions during this crisis, at a massive scale has been a challenge, the appreciation of the IT/ Technology department especially from the top management has been the opportunity. Whilst earlier the Technology spend was looked at as an expense, now the top management appreciates the benefits of having sound technology enablement.
Whilst almost all Banks were focussed earlier on the customer experience through Technology, the biggest challenges and, also the opportunities, in my view have been on the Security and Employee end. Enabling the Employees in this challenging environment with security is a technology professional’s dream and nightmare.
- Would you like to tell us about Business Continuity Plan (BCP)?
Very few, if any BCP scenarios would have envisaged the situation we are facing. This transcends practically all back-up situations that were envisaged for remedy as the probability was low. However, it happened, and the good part is, the Banks rose to the occasion and delivered the goods.
- Which technology will grow exponentially post COVID?
In my view, the biggest gainers will be Security and Remote working solutions. These have not had the space they deserved till now, but the focus is now on these two. Senior Management focus is also on these technologies.
- Usage of digital platforms is high during the pandemic so is the scare of cyber frauds. What measures are you taking to ensure security and safety of your client?
As far as ensuring safety and security of the Customers is concerned, the basics still hold good:
- Do not share your Login credentials and passwords
- Use strong Passwords that you can remember
- Use only from trusted mobile/ browser – Do not use public WiFi/ Computers
- Always sign up for 2FA and Do not share OTP
- Do not Click on any Links unless you are absolutely sure
- Do not load any applications except from Official sources (No pirated stuff)