In a conversation, Sheik Mohammad Fuad , Head of ICT, LankaBangla Finance
Limited, explicates how the company is leading the digitalisation of the NBFI
sector, the challenges and why it is essential to educate customers to better
fight cyber threats.
You have been with LankaBangla Finance’s IT department for nearly two decades. How will you evaluate the journey?
LankaBangla Finance Limited (LBFL) is one of the fastest-growing Non-Banking Financial Institutions (NBFI) in Bangladesh. LBFL started its journey in 1997 as a Joint Venture Financial Institution with multinational collaborations. Since its inception into the industry, LankaBangla Finance has been working rigorously to be the most preferred organisation for integrated financial services, including SME, Corporate, Retail, etc. LankaBangla Finance Limited is the only NBFI running credit card business in the industry. Being in the credit card business, LankaBangla has been ahead in using technology since the beginning.
For a long time, LankaBangla Finance Limited has been using one of the best software for its Core Banking System (CBS), Card Management System (CMS) and ERP Solution. OCAS and CMIS have also been used for customer onboarding, underwriting, disbursement, and collection monitoring with the management Information system. Team members’ dedication, ownership, and hard work has brought LankaBangla where it stands now. The management focuses on training the resources and complying with regulatory compliances.
The pandemic has catalysed mass digital adoption across the country. How has the change in consumer behaviour impacted the NBFI sector? Where does LankaBangla stand on digital platforms?
Before the pandemic, the digitisation process was already in progress to reduce TAT (Turn Around Time) and operational cost. But the COVID-19 pandemic pushed it to implement digital platforms faster. Last year, LankaBangla had introduced and onboarded a few Web Apps online. Customers can easily submit hassle-free, online applications to LankaBangla for the following products through the Web Apps:
- Credit Card
- Personal Loan
- Auto Loan
Anyone can apply with complete documentation without physically engaging with a salesperson. LBFL also introduced a payment receiving system through all market-leading MFS, PSP, and Bank’s App.
We have also introduced Work From Home (WFH), a Chatbot named ‘Shikha’, upgraded Mobile App ‘FinSmart’, eKYC, Online Credit Approval System, Collection and Monitoring Information System.
All prospective and existing customers in Bangladesh have started using digital platforms for transactions heavily, and the services have increased rapidly. LankaBangla started with several projects to implement services to ensure customers’ journey from start to end within the ecosystem to avail services from anywhere at any time.
Over the last few years, LankaBangla has been highly commended for the rapid digitalisation of its operations. How crucial is digitalisation for the company’s long-term vision? Could you provide some information about ‘FinSmart’ and ‘Shikha Virtual Assistant’?
The entire world had been on the path of rapid digitisation even before the pandemic hit. It indeed prompted exponential growth of digitalisation, however digitalisation of financial services was inevitable. We started working and onboarding several digital platforms to meet future requirements. We have developed a mobile application named FinSmart and a Chatbot named Shikha for our customers. We are continuously working to improve our mobile app to meet the ever-growing customer expectations and requirements. In the long term, smooth integration of all systems needs to be established to get fully used cases for digitalisation. We all know it will require a certain period to reach that level. LankaBangla is also working to integrate the systems. Without this, we will be behind the tech-oriented generation.
What are your comments on the challenges that you are facing for this digital transformation?
In the last five years, technological growth has scaled the finance industry to new heights. To cope with the scaling for used cases, it enhances with a new way. LankaBangla is working fast towards the digital movement. We believe in establishing a complete customer journey digitally. Still, I would like to say a few challenges we are facing:
Customers’ awareness: Customers care less about privacy and securing credentials while using Online and digital platforms which may cause fraud and financial loss. There is a need to focus on continuous awareness and educating the customer.
We continue to demonstrate our competency and ambition to creditably and proficiently deliver a safer, improved, and ecologically focused service to our customers across the nation through this certification.
Third Party Dependencies: Integration with different systems are mostly required to develop a complete ecosystem digital platform. Here vendors’ capacity, resource constraints and commitment failure on schedule are obstacles for a fast move.
Maintenance Cost: Maintenance, enhancements and securing digital platform cost are much higher than implementation. The rapid evolution of technology also increases cost.
Unfortunately, digitalisation brings greater security risks. What kind of security measures has LankaBangla implemented to protect its operations as well as the customers from cyber-attacks?
Security is the primary concern for us. It is a part of our business, and we take this responsibility seriously. To ensure the fundamentals of data security, our institution follows the best practices in information security processes and procedures.
We have recently been awarded the prestigious ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification by an International Certification Agency, the British Standards Institute (BSI). We continue to demonstrate our competency and ambition to creditably and proficiently deliver a safer, improved, and ecologically focused service to our customers across the nation through this certification.
LankaBangla Finance Limited is the first among all the NBFIs in Bangladesh to receive the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) certification. We strongly believe that this certification will help us stand out from the rest in the financial industry. Our objective is to construct and uphold reliance and trustworthiness in our businesses so that our customers feel assured that they have made the right choice in selecting our organisation for their desired financial services.
The Management of LankaBangla is enthusiastically implementing the necessary tools and hardware to keep the system safe and secured. Anything secured today might be vulnerable tomorrow. Therefore we consider it as a continuous improvement process of enhancing security regularly. Finally, one thing I would like to focus on is the end-users. All users need to be educated and made aware of coping with cyber threats, whether internal or external, periodically.