Banking Sector must not waste this crisis

- H. R. Khan, Former Deputy Governor, RBI

The whole world is going through an unprecedented difficult situation in the wake of Coronavirus outbreak. Despite many constraints, banks are ensuring business continuity and uninterrupted customer service. Leveraging of technology and digitisation of the operations are critical factors that are enabling banks to offer these services without disruptions.

These digital solutions need new technical paradigms and rigorous security testing to ensure that no breaches happen. In these circumstances, it is imperative to prepare bankers for the evolving situation to ensure uninterrupted banking services.

New e-Programmes from IDRBT

Responding to this need and taking into account the current constraints, IDRBT has now introduced an e-Learning Channel for its training programmes. These e-Programmes would provide the required learning inputs through online teaching, reading material, videos, webinars, assignments, quizzes, online interactions and clarifications, with a view to benefit the banking community with the latest in Banking Technology.

These e-Programmes covers areas of immediate relevance such as Doorstep Banking, Mobile Payments, Social Media Banking, Recent Cyber Crimes and Defences, Fraud Analytics, Customer Lifecycle Management, etc. There is an overwhelming response to these e-Programmes Initiative, with the number of registrations being almost three-fold of the training programmes offered in the classroom mode by the Institute.

e-Programmes for Board Members

Shri H.R. Khan, former Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India, started off the Institute’s e-Programmes Initiative for Board Members of Banks with his address on “Covid-19 Pandemics & BCCP in Banks: People Perspectives” on May 15, 2020.

Initiating the proceedings, Dr. A. S. Ramasastri, Director, IDRBT, made the following key points:


  • An advantage banks have derived in Business Continuity Planning (BCP) is technology. Had this pandemic stuck us about three decades back, when we had no core banking solution, no centralised database, no mobiles, etc., for taking banking to customer; our BCP would have been much more difficult. The technological advancements in banking have come in handy.
  • Despite the high degree of technology availability, we have still not been able to reach all the nooks and corners of the country. Financial Inclusion and technologies related to it need a closer look in these circumstances.
  • Since Covid-19 is also an opportunity to digitize, managements should think forward and leverage new age technologies like Internet of Things, 5G, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, etc.
  • Immersive Customer Experience can be targeted using telepresence and similar means to ensure customer connect beyond physical proximity.
  • There is an equally important need to plan Human Resources during these times – as there are still services that need human intervention.

Thereafter, Shri H.R. Khan, former Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India, spoke on “Covid-19 Pandemics & BCCP in Banks: People Perspectives” for Board Members and the key points he made are as under:

  • Business Continuity and Change Planning (BCCP): Historically, the Board has focused more on technology. During Pandemic-induced lockdowns, our Data Centres and Technology Platforms have stood us in good stead, but we have a people problem as it is people who are affected by the virus or are unavailable and not the IT or Telecom infrastructure. In fact, people partnering with technology will be the key to survival and revival. Have clear succession planning, right from the CEO level. In every important meeting, the next-in line should be necessarily present so that they are ready to step in, in case of an emergency. The focus now should be on survival and sustainability rather than on profits. Key personnel, including from outsourced vendors, should be co-located at or very near critical sites. Banks Board should diligently relook at crisis management plan & team taking into account the possible uncertain duration of the Pandemic.
  • Digital Opportunities from Covid-19 Crisis: Every bank needs to have a digital plan. Covid-19 crisis provides an opportunity to revive, reinvent and move more banking products and services to the digital platforms. Customers are hesitant to deal with paper currency or visit the branch premises at this point; this will help in digital push. Digital Payments, more particularly UPI, have been quite successful. We need to expand other customer-facing products similarly. Whatsapp is being used in a big away, even by old people though they are not digitally-savvy. We need to learn the right lessons from such tools and plan our strategies like Doing Banking from Home to reach out to customers across segments.
  • Organisational Change & HR Reinvention: We need to be flexible with organisational roles and structures, now as well as going forward. Strict hierarchies won’t work. There is a need to move from strict individualistic hierarchies to hybrid, distributed working model aimed towards teamwork and collaboration. Flattening of multi-layered hierarchies can be considered. Banks should identify and benefit from employees who can multi-task. Reskilling employees, especially through e-learning, can help create a multi-skilled workforce. HR set up has to align its policies and processes to the new realities and increase its digital quotient for performance and productive management and employee engagement. This is also an opportunity for increasing social footprints of banks. We should look at reducing the pain for our customers. Empathy is the key in these tough times.
  • Work From Home Happily (WFHH): Lockdown has forced many people to work from home, which poses its own challenges. Data confidentiality and infrastructural challenges are critical in banking. Many banks lack common shared repositories and databases, which are now important. There is a need to ensure additional security in work from home scenarios. HR aspects may be tweaked to focus on outcomes rather than attendance. Technology can be exploited to ensure employees professional and psychological well-being. As we reshape and re-imagine our strategies, we have to ensure cultural readiness for this new normal. In parallel, the banking industry has to flag the regulatory, legal and taxation related issues that may arise from Work From Home (WFH) and other distributed and flexible forms of working landscape. Banking Sector must not waste this crisis.

98 Board Members of various public and private Banks participated.