Financial IT speaks with Sandeep Chouhan Group Head Operations & Technology at Mashreq Bank.
Global Operations and Technology Leader in Financial Services with over 30 years of experience across blue chip organisations: Barclays, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Tata, Mashreq Bank, Commercial bank across Emerging Markets, Europe and USA.
Financial IT: Can you please tell more about Mashreq Bank and your background?
Sandeep Chouhan: Mashreq Bank is the region's largest private bank and the most innovative bank that has a very strong heritage of over 50 years of innovation and technology transformation.
Mashreq Bank has built its operation in 12 international markets and currently operates from Hong Kong through to New York and delivers sophisticated universal banking solutions.
Technology innovation has been at the heart of Mashreq’s business strategy and in the last three years has accelerated digital transformation capabilities and achieved digital leadership in this market.
Mashreq Bank developing all the major digital components in the bank, to deliver the most sophisticated customer experience and drive cost efficiency among the operating environment while strengthening our controls over the banks.
Mashreq Bank has developed very sophisticated technology capabilities where using the major digital block of our strategy as the use of artificial intelligence and robotics the use of advanced analytics and big data capabilities. The use of cloud computing environments, mobility and mobile spot capabilities. Building a blockchain based network, preparing the bank for open banking an API ecosystem to partner with other digital enterprises and we are developing and strengthening our cyber security component in a very meaningful way.
Mashreq Bank also partnering with 12 fintech companies that have a global presence from Italy, USA, Singapore and India and we are delivering very sophisticated solutions to drive innovation across the bank.
If to speak about my background. I am banker with over 30 years of experience and have been developing technology lead transformation for these banks. I worked in both mature markets and emerging markets. Furthermore, I worked for large multinational banks and local regional banks and through my 30 years I have been able to drive transformation of banking products, banking services, service channel and building partnerships with service providers
Financial IT: Mashreq Bank is one of the largest banks in Middle East, what makes Mashreq Bank unique among its competitors?
Sandeep Chouhan: Mashreq Bank is one of the strongest banks because it is a bank set up by entrepreneurs and has a very strong entrepreneurial spirit to how it operates and has constantly redeveloped its business strategy to leverage the technology innovation that is going on in that decade.
Mashreq Bank has been using technology to bring new products and services to customers from our heritage of bringing new. Mashreq Bank is the first bank to bringing ATMs. Moreover, we are the first bank to bring credit cards, internet banking and mobile banking and more recently we are the first bank to use artificial intelligence and robotics that we today have over 300 robots that make up over a million transactions a month to run our banking operations. Mashreq Bank has also a center of innovation center of excellence in Bangalore and Mashreq global services where we have about a thousand people running innovation labs and developing leading edge solutions to provide the digital capabilities that I spoke about earlier on robotics, on analytics, on blockchain, on mobility, on cybersecurity. So, we have a very strong in-house team that is developing these leading edge solutions.
Financial IT: What are the issues and challenges that you are facing today?
Sandeep Chouhan: Firstly, we are continuously addressing is cybersecurity and making sure that in the digital services that we are expanding we have the appropriate level of security and controls to protect the customer and the bank. and we are putting in this very sophisticated, monitoring and protection capabilities.
Secondly, Mashreq Bank has a challenge of keeping pace with financial crime and financial landscape in the geographies we operate in. We have to constantly keep enhancing our dimensions, climate compliance, infrastructure to do that showed we are fully adhering with the regulations of all the jurisdictions that we operate in.
We of course are given over strong heritage on technology. We are able to attract a lot of very talented professionals who want to build a career and being part of a digital bank and we are also attracting partner support large corporate as well as small startups who want to be part.
Financial IT: What is a market demand in the present time in the banking industry?
Sandeep Chouhan: In the banking industry of course customers are continuing to demand convenience and speed and they are looking for a complete instant fulfillment of their banking services. So, whether it is to open up banking relationship with us or it is to perform everyday transactions of managing their money or it is to transact with other clients that they operate with that they look for their bank to make banking very convenient and very easy also they are demanding for a lot more advice.
The banks have so much information about customers and their financial transactions they are looking for very sophisticated advice on part of the bank in how they can serve as managing their money and protecting it. So that's where the biggest demand is right now and that is why digital is playing a very vital role in helping give this convenience and speed of instant fulfillment of banking services and it is offering this deep analytics of customer behavior and offer them predictive models on how they should be managing their money in the future. And all this has to be delivered to the customer at the convenience of their mobile phone in place inside the big corporate enterprise.
And then they are talking to banker they want the bankers to be very informed and that's Mashreq is doing so very pioneering work and is a market leader in delivering its digital services to both its staff and to clients. Also, that implies that we are attracting are demanding modern workplace.
But Mashreq, we have been modernizing our environment for our staff that allows them to benefit from the same digital technologies of robotics and artificial intelligence and mobility and analytics make their every day job even simpler to service lives. And we are using the power of cloud and allowing our workforce flexible working environments that allow them to access information at the convenience of their work locations.
Financial IT: What is the next for Mashreq Bank?
Sandeep Chouhan: Our vision for the future has three broad dimensions in our quest for digital leadership to be most successful digital bank in the region. We are looking to create customer experiences where 90 percent of all transactions will be originated digitally. We are currently doing exceedingly well on that and we are very confident to be a digital leader by originating our customer transactions electronically. Part of our strategy is to drive efficiency by straight through for processing and putting advanced metrics and robotics in place to help eliminate any manual intervention in the environment. The third element of the strategy is to participate in digital ecosystems. And ecosystems like healthcare, property, wealth management and tourism. Many ecosystems existence the bank wants to play a very meaningful role in providing these ecosystems with the sophisticated financial services. That our strategy underpinning this entire strategy of course we are very heavily dependent upon developing an agile organization which understands how to operate and attract talent in this digital economy.
Financial IT: Based on your experience please advise where will be banking industry in five years?
Sandeep Chouhan: In five years we believe artificial intelligence will change the way customers interact with banks and will experience a lot more sophisticated understanding of their needs and banks will be able to use artificial intelligence tools to take very deep and quick decisions.
On many factors of what we do whether it is good service or management of supply and operational activity. The second area that we see emergence is the growth of blockchain based networks and potentially the arrival of cryptocurrencies will change the landscape in how banks operate in the future.