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Suffused in AI, Tata Capital is banking on a voice bot to sanction loans

Suffused in AI, Tata Capital is banking on a voice bot to sanction loans
Photo Credit: 123RF.com

Abonty Banerjee juggles two important roles at Tata Capital Ltd, the financial services arm of the diversified Tata group: The ever-important job of the chief marketing officer, and a title that is of huge interest to an increasingly tech-driven world—chief digital officer.

The two seemingly divergent roles, however, don't bother Banerjee. In fact, she believes marketing and digital are vastly complementary functions.

“In today’s scenario, the use of digital mediums in marketing is more prevalent. There is advanced use of automation, which has helped evolve marketing tremendously,” she says.

“Although the offline marketing world is noticing a fair amount of action, marketing as a function is seeing a lot of digitisation” she adds.

Having joined Tata Capital in April 2018, Banerjee has seen the digital world transform through her previous 17-year stint at ICICI Bank, where many digital campaigns were undertaken.

For example, under Banerjee in 2015, ICICI launched ICICIbankpay in collaboration with Twitter India, which allowed users to transfer money, check account balance and get mobile recharge done through any account linked to a verified profile on the microblogging site.

Tata Capital itself is no stranger to such unorthodox digital implementations. In May 2017, the company launched Salaam Loans, under which a loan was granted based on the number of ‘salaams’ or likes received on social media. The easy process did away with numerous forms and Credit Information Bureau (India) Ltd's scoring for small-ticket loans.  

Leveraging tech

From sentiment analysis to personalised campaigns, Tata Capital is exploring digital like never before. “We use sentiment analysis on social media to predict customer buying patterns. We assess impacts of media campaigns through Big Data to increase reach quickly,” says Banerjee. 

“Profiling and segmentation of customers have also become better and far more customisable,” she says.

Tata Capital also uses a few tools to test campaigns before they go live. The insights gleaned help focus on areas that provide good return on investment and on others that need work.

The digital strategy for Tata Capital revolves around synergy. Within financial services, Tata Capital engages in a fair amount of cross-sell in pushing digital transformation. In the non- financial services segment, the company works with retail outlets such as Croma, Tata Motors and a slew of other Tata companies to drive technology, mainly through pre-approved engines for better customer service.

“The bigger strategy lies in effectively harnessing the power of the group and the large customer base to effectively reach out with the right product,” says Banerjee.

AI voice bot for loans

Perhaps what caught the industry’s attention about Tata Capital’s digital journey is the launch of the first voice bot to disburse loans, Tia. The company seems to be actively planning to move more towards voice adoption, understanding the inherent advantages that voice possesses in a linguistic market such as India.

“The innovation for Tia lies in how we can provide an end-to-end journey from eligibility to form-filling process to sanctioning. There is also an automated credit-writing engine at the backend,” points out Banerjee.

Tia is based on Bengaluru artificial intelligence company Niki.ai’s bot. It uses natural language processing routines at its core, which works in tandem with its speech-to-text application programming interface, coupled with an automated engine that tests the customer’s eligibility across various parameters.

However, Tia first started out as an AI-enabled chatbot in 2017. Tia was released with the ability to answer 70% of the routine customer queries, such as after-sales service, product information and application tracking.

“While we already had a chatbot, we felt that the voice aspect can make the offerings more convenient. We have initially launched the bot in English and will soon expand to other languages,” says Banerjee.  

Apart from Tia, Tata’s Online Working Capital Lending Platform works by reducing paper and making processes seamless. The tech-enabled platform, built in partnership with Biz2Credit, a US-based fintech company, is capable of approving and disbursing loans up to Rs 2 crore within 24 hours of initiation.

“We are also in the process of creating an information architecture through which the data required to enable such services will be made available on a real-time basis,” says Banerjee. 

She adds that the company has selected Automation Anywhere as the robotic process automation tool and is close to implementing intelligent automation for its retail and banking operations. Automation Anywhere, headquartered in California, is a developer of RPA software.

Moving forward, Tata Capital is working towards digitising business processes across retail and commercial lending while carving out paths towards new business creation and re-imagining current workflows.

“We are reviewing the entire back-office, internal processes and looking at innovative business models that can serve a purpose to the customers,” says Banerjee.

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