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'We are creating a mobile application for banking users who can’t read or write’: Ujjivan bank CIO Ashwin Khorana

'We are creating a mobile application for banking users who can’t read or write’: Ujjivan bank CIO Ashwin Khorana
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Indian small finance and mass-market bank Ujjivan Small Finance Bank’s customers mostly stem from tier-2 and 3 cities, which makes digital inclusion for its customers a tad harder than it is for banks that cater to the urban audience. The bank now plans to set up a mobile application designed for users who don’t know how to read or write. In an interview, Ashwin Khorana, chief information officer of Ujjivan, discussed how digital banking is increasing in tier 2-3 cities. Edited excerpts:

How has banking in tier 2-3 cities evolved over the past year digitally? 

Communications from tier 2, 3, 4 areas have improved considerably. The customer is now able to perform transactions on mobile phones without the problem of data connectivity. Since Jio was introduced, over the past 2 years, they have penetrated the deeper areas of the country. This has in-turn helped other telecommunications players to increase their footprint.

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How has the growth of Unified Payments Interface (UPI) affected banking in smaller cities?

The UPI payment ecosystem, and supplementing the same with QR code messaging, is an impactful implementation. For the last month, there were more than six billion transactions performed on UPI. If the country becomes confident of this medium, tomorrow we may not require to create smaller denomination currencies. 

There will come a time when the user will say they will only use digital currency to pay. The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) also said that no fee can be charged for this transaction, which acts as an extra incentive for the users. The moment it is not eating into the value of the transaction, the motivation to use UPI will increase. 

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How are you increasing your digital footprint among customers? What type of training do you provide?

 We have trained our employees to provide sessions to customers when they take loans or open a savings account. We carry out training sessions to show how digital transactions can be done on Google Pay or on our app, how to place a QR code outside a shop etc. There are a lot of sessions that are being conducted. Every new customer is being educated on how to use digital and mobile functions. 

What are the digital projects in the pipeline? What is happening in terms of the mobile application?

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We are working on a new app focusing on vernacular, voice and video. We are also working on an application that can still be used if a person cannot read or write. They can listen to the application and conduct transactions, and the app will guide them without needing to read, it will tell the person what to do and will help perform transactions. It will be available in 15 languages and will most probably release in the next quarter.