Ramesh Jayasekara, Chief Operating Officer of Seylan Bank, discusses why the bank’s digital strategy is focused & purposeful. It considers how digital technology disrupts traditional banking models and what banks need to do to capitalise on technology for meaningful, customer-centric growth.
Digital technology is causing upheavals in the financial services landscape globally at a rapid pace. How is it shaping the future of banking in this country?
The upheavals in digital technology and developments in smartphone-driven communications are disrupting industries the world over. They have revolutionised the banking and financial services industries, and now there is a rigorous review when it comes to physical branch expansion with banks scrutinising their ROIs and payback periods. There is also a greater focus on the Millennial and Gen Z segment, which increasingly engages with banks through digital platforms.
At Seylan Bank, the purposefully crafted digital strategy considers two critical factors. First, technology is changing how the banking industry operates, communicates, and interacts with internal and external stakeholders. Second, investing in new-fangled technology is nearly not enough! Why? Because technological adaptation should be a continuous process to achieve long term viability, maintain relevance and keep up with evolving customer demands in banking experiences. Our service proposition reflects changing consumer trends. Millennials and Gen-Z consumers consider technology as an integral part of their lives. They have high expectations of personalisation, ease of access, simplicity for navigation, and feature-intense banking solutions.
How is Seylan Bank embracing this unfolding technological revolution? Can you share your digital strategy and how you are harnessing technology to gain market share and grow the business in a competitive banking environment?
We sit on a vast amount of data, through which we can derive deep insights about our customers and the market. We believe Competitive advantage can be achieved on how we harness this data and make it more beneficial to the bank. We have been mining this data and making the most out of our technology investments, and are exploring ways to deploy this wealth of data/insights in our possession, to develop innovative solutions that will add value and create enhanced personalised banking experiences. Digitalisation must essentially have one of three objectives: either increase revenue, reduce costs, or optimize response time. For example, we are leveraging data to convert value-seeking credit and debit cardholders to routine users. We are identifying customers with a proven track record of repayment to be eligible for an automatic loan top-up. We are also streamlining the account opening process by replacing many repetitive and unproductive functions with robotic automation. These have freed up staff to focus on more critical roles like Sales and Customer Service.
We are investing in online onboarding of new customers and enhance our corporate offerings such as internet banking and payment platforms which will help us solidify relationships during these challenging times. Digitalisation and automation of processes are ongoing and will improve productivity and cost efficiencies, thereby generating value for our stakeholders. Our digital strategy also encompasses creating shareholder value, facilitating employee empowerment, and streamlining transactions with suppliers and other business partners.
What are the emerging trends shaping the future of Seylan Bank, and how will you deploy technology to unlock growth opportunities and become more relevant to evolving customer needs?
AI and Machine Learning are key areas when it comes to data. There are many predictive trends, and banks that use them would be much better off than others. Robotic Process Automation has impressive paybacks and converts various central processes that are repetitive into more productive functions. Additionally, APIs can rapidly link banks with other ecosystems. We no longer compete with banks alone, but must consider the various digital ecosystems and their customers, sales platforms, and financial capital solutions. These ecosystems are now becoming very popular, and that is the landscape we are playing in.
What is your vision for the future of the bank? What is the next big step, or innovation, that will transform the fortunes of the bank and its clients?
As part of the short-term plan, we have identified specific sectors of the economy that will outperform others, and we are focused on expanding and growing in these growth sectors. The bank has a strategic plan to achieve growth over the next three years, which will be a challenging post-Covid period without a doubt. We are confident our digital strategy will augment our efforts in this regard.
What differentiates Seylan Bank is our ability to understand customers and leverage data to engage existing customers and attract potential customers smarter. That is how we will continue to harness technology. We will continue to invest in upgrading the IT systems and platforms, cybersecurity, network operations, and digital channels with customer needs and data showing us the way.