RPA Implementation in UAE’s Banking Sector

Midhun Menon P

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    We live in an age of digital interconnectivity, and it is no surprise that most banks in UAE are opting for or already undergone digital transformation. According to KPMG, top UAE banks have shown good performances in the past few years and have recorded a growth of nearly 14% in net profit. A good chunk of appreciation must be given to these banks who have used digital technology to expand their business to new horizons. Another major factor to this sudden change is the rising expectation level of customers, gone are the days where customers spend hours in a queue in front of a bank. Today’s customers want everything in 5G speed and more importantly, it is all about convenience and ambiance a bank provides. This trend is seen globally, from rising economies like India to developed economies like the U.K or the U.S. Here at HLB HAMT, we provide customized RPA solutions in UAE to automate numerous banking procedures that require human time and effort.

    What are the current issues facing the Banking Industry?

    Time, as they say waits for none. If you ask me what the most precious entity in the universe is, it is time! Most banks face the issue of spending too much time on processes with apparently less returns, and sometimes, I do agree that some processes are extremely crucial and thereby takes more time. For e.g., mortgage loan processing and all takes a lot of time to validate and execute. So time-consuming processes are one of the issues faced by the banks. Moreover, banking Is one sector which required highly experienced resources. A small error can have big repercussions in a bank’s reputation. The risk of data security and data leakage in the manual loan approval processes is also a challenge for many banks in UAE. With strict laws and compliances like NESA, data privacy and security should be given at most importance. Any man-made errors or non-compliant features can result in heavy fines and lawsuits against the bank.

    What is RPA and why it is in trending among banks and other financial institutions in the UAE?

    Robotic Process Automation or RPA is a proven technology, especially in finance and accounting verticals. Being a combination of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms, RPA allows you to focus on important, higher-value work while automating high-level manual process flows.  In a research conducted by Gartner, global spending on RPA across industries is expected to reach $2.4 billion in 2022!  Another benefit of implementing RPA is it almost eliminates human errors in high-risk actions and thereby reducing operational risks by a great volume. Based on a PwC study, almost 80% of CEOs of leading banks are concerned about the rapid pace the technology is evolving per day in this sector and most of them feel RPA can be the tool that helps them keep up with the rising case of security risks associated with the same.

    Many would-be having a doubt, how a programmed BOT can replace a human user, but RPA does just that, it can mimic human actions and can interact with a website, mobile app, or any software. The BOTS can be 100% customized according to each requirement and can automate a broad range of tasks to fit your needs. Besides AI-based BOTS never sleeps and can operate 24*7 leading to an increase in overall productivity.

    Though we would be discussing later how RPA transform banking operations in detail, let me throw some light on its advantages for banking industry in a nutshell. Studies have suggested that banks that implemented RPA reduced up to 90% of their loan processing time and the approval process was faster by 50%. BOTS can extract the needed data easily and verify all required documents quickly. The KYC verification process also can be done easily and paperless. The labor costs can be reduced in the process. The turnaround time has reduced from days to hours and in some cases even seconds!!! The transformation of information from a legacy system to a modern cloud-based one can be done easily through RPA based solutions.

    Banks in UAE, especially in Dubai are adopting RPA on a large scale for automating repetitive tasks such as customer support, loan processing, and account portability sections. On an average, these BOTS do close two 2 million transactions in a day. Another area which has seen drastic improvement is ATM cash disbursal, where earlier the time taken was close to 12 hours and now it is just under four hours!!! And it is not only middle east banks which are in the forefront, major banks such as Deutsche and HSBC have recently been in news of successfully implementing RPA in their business processes.

    The concept of Digital Workers in the Banking Sector

    As said earlier, the AI-powered BOTS can help banks be competitive and cut their operational expenditures to a large extent. The concept of Digital Worker has already been implemented successfully in other industries such as logistics and healthcare. To define, a digital worker is a virtual employee made up of AI, ML, RPA and analytics to carry out regular human tasks with 100% accuracy and in double-quick time. I believe this concept will catch up with other industries as well and in future, we will have more digital workers in every sector.

    The digital worker in banking sector can automate lot of repetitive banking activities such as responding to customer queries, organize bank statements, handle incoming enquiries, process payroll slips, etc. The concept of a digital worker is such that it can integrate with any system or any platform and can be completely built to suit your process and business structure. The routine and mundane front and back-office tasks can be done by the digital worker, benefitting all stakeholders on one go.

    Digital Worker for UAE banks: Use Cases
    I am going to touch upon some time-consuming and repetitive procedures among the UAE banks that can be automated with the help of RPA. HLB HAMT is already providing most of these services to the leading banks in the region.

    Inbound enquiry management

    Credit Assistant

    The credit related enquiries from customers through web-based medium such as chat, email and through website is interpreted accordingly by BOTS. The enquiries are categorized based on the eligibility and loan type. Pre-programmed BOTS will have rule engine defining each action course. The BOTS can verify a customer’s identity by scanning through the data bank and can even archive related documents required for sanctioning the loan. BOTS can also send request for additional info and send appropriate replies to the enquirer.

    Accountant

    BOTS here are programmed for enquires related to accounting functionalities, tax payments, VAT in case of UAE, etc.  Again, the inbound enquires are categorized based on the type and action courses are defined. BOTS can retrieve financial data, updating accounting receivables etc. and check accuracy of the financial records. All the corresponding follow ups and proper reply to the enquirer will be done accordingly. Another BOTS activity is creation of analytical reports for management reference.

    Customer Service

    Thousands of enquiries come to a bank each day be it on chat, email, website, and even through CRM systems. As a human it is difficult to interpret the content and do the response accordingly. BOTS can help in the same by dividing the enquiries based on its type and following it up with relevant information. In a survey conducted by Accenture back in 2016, more than 70% respondents from the banking sector believes that RPA can be a big influential factor in enforcing compliance in the future.

    Account Initiation & Closure Process

    Usually there are number of documents to be processed during both account initiation and closure process. These documents can be both from the client-side or from the bank side. Sometimes, accounts will be forcefully closed due to a lot of reasons. Manually handling all this can be a tedious process. With RPA in place, banks can run a checklist of documents to be verified before an account initiation and closure. Notifications can be sent automatically via this process.

    Risk and Compliance Management

    Since it deals with lot of monetary transactions, there are extremely complex regulations and compliances to be met that deals with customer data privacy and security. Also, the risk associated with tighter deadlines, are bit too much headache for the banks. Reporting becomes a constant repetitive entity that is unavoidable. Moreover, these regulatory parameters change often making the manual work even more complex. RPA can help automate these manual reporting procedures and BOTS can be easily fed with regulatory requirement changes.

    Tracking & Managing Accounts Payable

    One of the most monotonous processes in banking sector, is accounts payable. It is a less complex procedure but has lot of data extraction and validation steps which is highly time-consuming and requires complete control and overseeing. Based on our experience, our clients across Dubai and other emirates have chosen accounts payable as a priority simple because it does not require a complex intelligence engine and can implement quickly.

    We have designed this with the help of an OCR based solution where our document processing software can read information from the scanned copy of the file and RPA will do the rest of the process such as evaluating the information and send reminders if necessary. There is also manual intervention possible whenever necessary.

    Processing Credit Card Applications

    I still remember few years ago, it used to take more than 10-15 days, sometimes even a month for us to get the credit card approval from the bank. Obviously, this leads to a lot of frustration among the applicants, and some may even cancel the card altogether. What the normal manual process takes in weeks, RPA can do it within a matter of hours. All necessary validation checks or credit score checks can be conducted in the background and the system can arrive at a decision whether to go ahead with the card issue or not.

    Processing Mortgage Loans

    Loan processing is an extremely vital entity in a bank’s day to day functionality. Usually, this process, especially that of mortgage loans are extremely time-consuming. With a set rule engine, RPA can handle these processes hassle free. HLB HAMT has helped banks automate their loan initiation, KYC document processing, background checks like repayment history, employment verification etc. through RPA BOTS. Hence, the loans could be approved or disapproved swiftly. Another advantage of RPA in mortgage loan processing is that you can reallocate lot of your staffs to higher-value tasks.

    Detecting Fraudulent Activities
    HLB HAMT has its own forensic and fraud investigation wing where we help UAE-based banks track all dubious transactions and pinpoint on the fraudulent ones. We achieve this by using RPA by analyzing transaction patterns and having a quick responsive action against such grey accounts by either stopping the transaction or blocking that account altogether.

    KYC Processing
    These days, Know Your Customer, abbreviated as KYC is a norm for every financial institution. There are several mandatory checks regarding every customer. Validation of each parameter is a tedious manual job and something Banks usually spend a lot of money on. Accuracy is also an issue with these manual checks. With RPA, not only Banks can get the data validated in ultra-quick time, but they can also reduce the errors to almost nil.

    Extracting Data from Legacy Systems
    These data might be stored in multiple system across locations, the more the systems, the more there is a chance for errors to creep in manual systems. Our expertise team of RPA developers have developed systems to extract data from multiple systems including legacy ones. It is extremely important to process the data in any format and RPA does have that ability.

    Generating Reports & Analytics Dashboard
    All banks maintain a general ledger with all important data such as bank’s date-wise financial statements, assets, liabilities & revenue details, etc. Out of the reports created from such documents, some might be publicly accessible such as for company shareholders and media, and some might be of confidential nature. A small mistake in any of the report generation could spoil the bank’s reputation big time. RPA systems generally use report templates to create reports quicker and without any errors. Using the data, RPA systems can also create an analytics dashboard with all important information for top management people.

    I have just discussed the most frequent Digital Worker use cases we implement for banks in the middle east region. There are many other use cases which can automated with the help of RPA BOTS. With the pandemic still hovering around us, it is wise as well to keep human contact to the minimum and reduce any bottlenecks in the bank’s daily processes. I believe as AI and ML algorithms evolve over time; we would be seeing more innovative RPA tools from the HLB HAMT team in the future. Its no wonder that Industry leaders have adopted RPA with open hands, and reports from renowned industry leaders say that by 2025, almost all banks will adopt RPA based Digital Workers in their day-to-day activities. RPA is here to stay, and probably stay for a long time.

    If you are looking to implement any one of the above use cases or if you want to try out any innovative use cases, do write to us. Our experts will be in touch with you soon.

     

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