As Darwin aptly theorized, man should adapt to survive. Survival in the new normal was difficult at first, but mankind found means to adapt and thrive in the wake of the imminent threats. The secret behind this perseverance is the manner in which individuals found ways to perform their tasks online.
The answer to the question whether countries should adapt a digital economy has become more relevant in light of recent global events. However, it is not as simple as one might assume.
As the oldest development bank of Sri Lanka, DFCC Bank has seen through the country during its glory years as well as its downright unpleasant phases. It has had the Sri Lankan community’s best interests at heart for a span of 66 years. It has outlived many generations of technologies, and has a keen eye to recognize and adapt the ‘next best trend’.
It is evident that DFCC Bank has recognized the potential of a digital economy to take over the Sri Lankan market, and the bright aspects that it is to bring about once it is fully incorporated. Vice President of Digital Strategy for DFCC Bank Dinesh Jebamani has a lot to mention regarding the matter, and thus he graciously agreed to share his thoughts with the society.
In your opinion, what is the importance of promoting the digital economy concept?
The digital economy refers to a broad range of economic activities that use digitized information and knowledge as key factors to drive change and add value. The internet, IOT, cloud computing, big data, fintech, Artificial intelligence, Machine learning, RPA, Biometrics, 4 G /5 G, Blockchain and other new digital technologies are used to collect, store, analyze, automate processes, deliver, validate, enable payments, collection, monitoring and share information digitally and transform social interactions. The digitization of the economy creates benefits and efficiencies as digital technologies drive innovation and fuel job opportunities and economic growth. The digital economy also permeates all aspects of society, influencing the way people interact and bringing about broad sociological changes.
Moreover, the term reflects the ability to leverage technologies to execute tasks and engage in activities that weren’t possible in the past. Such opportunities for existing entities to do better, to do more, to do things differently and to do new things is encompassed in the related concept of digital transformation. Understanding the digital economy remains a challenge because of its complexity and evolution.
Digital transformation is about not only big data and digital platforms but also how those advanced technologies can be utilized to maximize opportunities for innovation, new business models and processes, and smart products and services.
What is the experience that DFCC Bank wields in terms of digitalization?
Over the years, DFCC Bank has given significant emphasis on the importance of digitalization as well as customer convenience and the relevance of these aspects for the customers. DFCC Bank was the first bank to launch a virtual wallet in year 2015 Thereafter, in year 2018 DFCC Bank launched the payments and cash management solution for its corporate customers “DFCC I-Connect”. In January 2019 the bank launched the first interactive credit card statement for credit card customers. The statement helps track expenses – monthly, last 3 months and provides a spend wise analysis, segregate debit, credit, international and local transactions.
In terms of digitalization, DFCC “MySpace” concept introduces ATMs, CRMs, Cheque deposit kiosks and Pay-and-Go machines where customers can perform Cardless / Card based cash deposits, withdrawals, credit card payments, bill payments, cheque deposits etc. DFCC Bank is one of the few banks which does not charge a fee when bank customers use same for cash withdrawals’ in DFCC ATM/CRM machines. Providing value addition for its customers is the essence of DFCC Bank’s existence.
The bank has been heavily focused on digital transformation for the past two years and has built an agile road map the keeps evolving with new technology trends, adoption and ever changing consumer behavior . DFCC Bank believes in collaborations. The virtual wallet is a product developed due to collaboration/ partnership with DFCC Bank own subsidiary Synapsis; which is a reputed FinTech in Sri Lanka. The Mobile Teller “M-Teller” service enables bank staff to visit customers and collect their daily cash collections and this service again is offered free of charge.
DFCC Bank is venturing on a continuous journey down the digitalization route; developing new solutions with new partners and a continuous improvement mindset. The future of the customers will forever be etched on the conscience of DFCC Bank. The vision is to be accepted as the most customer centric and digitally enabled bank by year 2025.
Has DFCC Bank launched any new technologies that enrich a potential digital economy?
The DFCC Virtual wallet is currently a dynamic and novel product and facilitates multiple functionalities and facets. The channel is a wallet with inbuilt mobile banking features in one single product. A newly designed interface was introduced last year where the customer has the choice of using the product in a language of their choice; either in Sinhalese, English or Tamil. This gives an engaging interactive experience. During the past six months we have added more than 15 new features to add value to existing and new customers to use the channel. This was made possible due to the dedication and commitment of our staff and external partners. Work is in progress to keep adding new features to increase user adoption and experience.
The virtual wallet facilitates a plethora of useful features such as checking balances of customers Current / Savings Accounts, interest rates, maturity dates on fixed deposits and loan balances, due date. Customers can also add there DFCC credit cards (Primary and Supplementary) and view credit card details, card number, limit, available balance, minimum payment due, payment due date, card status, cash back rewards value, view credit card transaction details and credit card statements of the last 3 months.
Transfers are enabled providing customers to transfer funds within own accounts, to third party DFCC accounts or any other another bank accounts via CEFT and option to add account transfers to favorites, pay other bank credit cards via CEFT. Further customers can download or share the transfer confirmation receipt to beneficiaries.
Customers also have the option to top up the wallet and make bill payments to mobile and telecommunication service providers, utility services, insurance providers, send money to mobiles and request monies, further cardless withdrawal feature is enabled where customers can withdraw cash from nearly 135 DFCC ATMs and 52 CRMs island wide with 24/7 access.
What other DFCC digital products are expected to create an impact in a digital economy?
DFCC Bank has developed its digital strategy roadmap for the coming years. These strategies keep evolving with new trends and technologies. The bank has categorized its digital strategy offerings into digital channels, digital payments, digital operation and digital services. A plethora of products have and will be launched under those 4 pillars.
Digital channels include a selection of unique products. The DFCC Bank website has been revamped and re-launched with novel features such as online application to open savings and Special deposit accounts, credit cards, interactive calculators to provide onsite solutions, location services. The site is integrated with DFCC Chatz (Chatbot, live chat and video chatz ),. Furthermore a prominent credit card comparison page which makes it easier for customers to select their preferred credit card and digitally apply for same. A new feature which permits customers to add their promotions to their Google calendar has been introduced recently to ensure customers do not miss out on relevant credit card offers. Most recent feature enhancement to the website is the income tax calculator that supports individuals to assess the personal income tax liability for year 2020/2021.
The CRMs of DFCC Bank permits customers to perform cardless /cardbased cash deposits and withdrawals from a single unit. That CRM service has been expanded to 52 locations and last year bank collaborated with Lanka IOC and introduced 8 off site CRMs at their fuel stations allowing 24/7 access to customers at these locations. Cheque deposit kiosks have been developed and launched in 17 locations, and will further expand to additional 13 locations soon. DFCC Bank partnered with Megapay and introduced Pay-and-Go machines in 30 locations where customers can walk in and top-up their mobile phones and pay upto 55 different billers.
DFCC Bank also relaunched “Mobile Teller” – doorstep banking service offered by a staff representative, who accepts real time cash deposits via a mobile device. This offers customers the option of completing cash deposits at their preferred location provided it’s within a 20 km radius from the branch that offers the service. New features will be introduced to add more value to customers in the future through this channel.
Digital payment options have also been introduced recently and DFCC Bank was the first to introduce DFCC Pay integrated with Lanka QR and JustPay to support QR based payments and merchants are on boarded to accept such payments.
The digital services have been enhanced drastically during recent years. The SMS alert service has been upgraded to encompass a wider array of customers and now, the service covers junior savings and teen account holders. Customers can interact with the DFCC chat bot in a language of their preference, either on Facebook Messenger, Viber or in the website. If the inquiries are complex for the chat bot to handle, the customer will be directed to a live chat with a call center agent. A new normal feature that was introduced post lockdown is DFCC Video chatz where customers can interact via video to a call center agent and for customer on boarding.
How will a digital economy affect the traditional ‘brick and mortar’ system of banking?
The pandemic is ushering in a new, digital-oriented way of life for many people .The “new normal” of banking is quickly moving from branch-heavy, product-centric organizations with legacy technologies and cultures to consumer-centric organizations with more personalized solutions that can be delivered seamlessly.
We believe that banks must break out of the traditional branch model and focus on how to deliver specific, high value, physical interactions and experiences that can complement a digital banking core. In true complementary fashion, digital technologies should also be used to augment physical experiences and make services faster, more secure, and more convenient. This is the essence of a true phygital strategy.
Customers will be given the option of interacting with digital banking channels or a traditional bank branch. The overall experience and personalized solutions offered will be the key differentiator. The future would be a hybrid channel where there will be perfect synergy between the brick and mortar and digital banking channels. The branches shall continue to remain in different sizes and formats offering tailor made solutions and advisory services.
What is your message to the society?
Digitalization is transforming business models, social norms, and public policy landscapes. The exponential growth of digitalization and internet connectivity are the backbone of the fourth industrial revolution, which is permeating numerous sectors of the global economy and having an impact on sectors such as trade, energy, transportation, education, media, health- care, and especially financial services. Digital technologies bring down the costs of information and drastically reduce the costs of economic and social transactions for companies, individuals, and the public sector. Additionally, digital technologies increase efficiency as they make existing activities and services cheaper, faster, and more convenient, while promoting inclusion as they facilitate access to services that used to lie beyond the reach of many citizens and companies.
DFCC remains focused on the overall value proposition it delivers to customers – with relevance and personalization.. We will be committed to enhancing functionalities, creating utility value to increase adoption and ensuring that the products and services are customer centric. The Bank is proud to spearhead unique digital innovations that help revolutionize digital banking and provide convenience to customers. DFCC Bank is forging ahead strongly on the digital path and drawn up an exciting road map to roll out more digital innovations that bring unmatched convenience for its customers.