AiThority Interview with John Dangoia, VP Head of Product Management US and Europe at Infosys Finacle
Please tell us about your role and the team/technology at Infosys. How is Infosys Finacle transforming global digital banking practices?
First of all, thank you very much for inviting me back today. These are exciting times for Infosys Finacle as we partner with our clients on their digital transformations. I head up Product Management for Finacle for the U.S., and Europe regions. My role is to lead our Product strategy and execution, to ensure that we are more relevant than ever for our financial services clients.
Let me start by saying these are challenging times for many in our industry. More often than not, challenging times also offer some incredible business opportunities. We at Finacle are more focused than ever on helping banks leverage technology to tide over the challenging times and help them achieve their goals.
Finacle is an industry-leading digital banking solution suite driving digital transformations, powering innovations and accelerating growth for banks and financial institutions. Today, we are proud to say that financial institutions in over 100 countries rely on Finacle to service more than a billion consumers and 1.3 billion accounts.
The New Normal of Doing Business
Using technology for business continuity is the new normal. Which technologies and tools have become absolutely necessary to run a financial services company?
There is little doubt that technology plays a large role in how businesses react to challenges and how businesses transform into the new normal.
When COVID-19 hit almost a year back, business continuity was the top concern for financial institutions of every size. In addition to managing their own businesses, banks have had to assume a social responsibility to help customers and communities get through the crisis. Ensuring access to basic banking services, helping customers with short-term issues like loan extensions, loan modifications, and of course, quickly implementing government programs like the PPP were some of the immediate challenges.
Banks have responded well by launching online portals, bringing more banking services onto their digital platforms, and improving digital banking experiences. At the same time, banks had to enable their employees to service their customers remotely.
Increased reliance on digital channels, chatbots and other remote banking channels challenged the capacity of existing systems. In February, Bank of America was reporting a “surge” in use of its online and mobile banking offerings, with nearly 40 of its 66 million customers now using digital channels. Other big banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, are reporting similar gains.
Also, the increased fraud and cyber threat perception meant investing in tools and technologies, including AI that can make remote banking safer through intelligent fraud detection frameworks.
In the new normal, ‘low touch and high tech’ banking, reliance on digital technologies, RPA and bots, fraud management, and cybersecurity will continue to play a crucial role.
COVID-19 has disrupted every aspect of our lives and livelihood. How do you see the banking sector coping with the challenges of pandemic-induced disruptions in a post-COVID era?
I think we would all agree that COVID-19 has surely affected the way companies do business in every vertical, and the financial services industry is no exception.
Even in a remote work environment, banks and credit unions moved faster and took greater risks out of necessity, as consumers were increasingly relying on online services to conduct financial activities and avoided traditional branch banking. As opposed to creating completely new solutions, many innovations simply accelerated the digital transformation activities that were already underway. For instance, many organizations created the digital new account opening and digital loan application processes that consumers desired, leveraging outside tools that were readily available before the pandemic.
With short-term challenges getting addressed one by one, we see that the focus is shifting towards mid and long-term strategies to re-establish and regain the lost momentum. Financial institutions will have to reassess their I.T. and operational strategies against the backdrop of the experience gained from Covid-19.
Now, more than ever, customer-centric digitization and innovation need to be an important element in the banking industry’s focus. The good news is that digitization is not new to financial services. Well before COVID-19 unfolded, many financial institutions had already embarked on a journey of digitizing a wide variety of processes and customer touchpoints, focusing primarily on reducing cost, eliminating operational errors, and improving customer experiences. Banks are increasingly going to shift focus on transforming into ‘financial service platforms’, expanding reach by offering banking-as-a-service, embracing embedded banking and enriching customer experience.
As banks look at strategic initiatives, it is imperative that they choose the right partners and the right technology platforms. The right technology platform needs to be highly composable, highly configurable, cloud-enabled, and built on open banking principles. This will enable financial institutions to continue to innovate for years to come.
As a global banking technology platform, how do you see the new digital applications (A.I., virtual assistants, AR/VR, cryptocurrency, e-wallets) becoming more relevant in our economy?
According to the recent EFMA “Innovation in retail banking” report, many organizations have adjusted their corporate priorities as a result of the pandemic, with 75% of respondents listing digital banking transformation as a top focus area. These digital transformations are being made with one primary goal in mind: improving customer experience and engagement. The playing field in banking has changed because of new competitors and a greater awareness by consumers of what is possible in the world of E-Commerce.
We work with banks of all sizes across the world, and I can tell you that there is a lot of innovation happening, and technology will be the enabler. ‘Low-touch high-tech’ will continue to be a priority, and financial institutions will increasingly focus on alternative channels that are currently in nascent stages, for instance, WhatsApp banking, and video banking. Advanced analytics and A.I. will become more pervasive. Whether it is for underwriting, risk assessment, transaction and fraud monitoring, or simple customer interactions, analytics and A.I. will play a massive role in future banking. Usage of bots and other assistive tools will also grow to ease the reliance on human interactions. RPA automation will continue to gain traction, and bots will become more cognitive and user-friendly.
While still in the formative stage at some organizations, the ability to perform inquiries and transactions using voice is quickly becoming a differentiator as consumers become accustomed to the functionality of Siri, Alexa, etc. Bank of America’s Erica solution is a leader in financial services. From smartwatches to sensors throughout the home, the potential for embedded finance is becoming more commonplace. As organizations are constantly looking for ways to make banking easier, more will be done using interconnected devices that talk to each other for payments, loans, savings and investments.
Insights into New Technologies and Practices
Tell us more about your product and marketing roadmap for support bots, RPA and customer experience.
As a product company, we are always looking for the next areas of innovation that can help our clients gain a competitive advantage. We have made significant investments in many of the new age enablers like A.I., alternate channels, bots and RPA based solutions. For example, we have embedded analytics uses cases into our Finacle suite of products to provide data-based insights at the point of consumption. We have also accelerated our partnerships with fintechs to create an entire financial services ecosystem for our clients.
We will continue to invest in these areas, which would help banks accelerate their digital banking journeys. We are also committed to open banking and composable banking initiatives, which will enable financial institutions to create innovative products at a much faster pace.
Fintech is a vast landscape. As Product Management Head of Finacle, how do you interact with your CEO, CIO, CMOs and Chief Customer Success Officers to make your fintech product offerings more contemporary to your customers’ demands?
I believe for any organization to be successful, there should be a shared vision and shared objectives. As a product management head, part of my job is to work externally and internally to ensure that this shared vision is not only forward-thinking but also is in sync with expectations from our clients. We do this in a couple of ways. For instance, we regularly conduct leadership connects in the form of executive product council meetings; we have customer connect events with the leadership teams, and even have innovation labs with some of our clients. Getting the opportunity to work on innovative projects directly with clients is absolutely one of the most rewarding parts of my job. It just doesn’t get any better than that when you co-innovate with the best and brightest in the business.
How do you pair the power of human expertise with advanced data science capabilities?
It is a great question. You are right – A.I. and data science capabilities are not a replacement for human expertise. These technologies augment human expertise in ways only machines can probably do. Data is a decisive factor in today’s business environment, and crunching Giga and probably Terabytes of data in ways that can benefit end customers is very important for banks and credit unions.
At Finacle, we are constantly working in this direction to enable banks with actionable insights from transactional, behavioral, demographic, and other types of structured and unstructured data. This is achieved by employing statistical models and using A.I. and machine learning techniques. In fact, we have a ready set of solutions for providing better customer experience, forecasting cash flows and account positions, presenting the customer with the most suitable product or service, credit risk management and many such areas.
We work with our clients and continually fine-tune these models, visualizing new ways to leverage data. This way – when human expertise is paired with advanced data science capabilities – we believe it is a win-win situation for everyone. After all, delivering the right product at the right place and at the right time is what we all want and expect from the companies that we do business with.
What is the future of digital transformation in banking and fintech? Which technologies (that we didn’t discuss here) are you particularly keen to explore and adopt for your customers?
The first part of your question is relatively straightforward as digital transformation will undoubtedly continue to be one of the primary focus areas for banking’ foreseeable future. There is so much to do and so many processes to improve upon. If anything is going to change, I believe it will be the scale and pace of digitization. Today, there is more digitization in certain segments compared to the others – for example, consumer banking vs. corporate banking. There is more digitation in some markets compared to others. Real-time payments are commonplace in some markets, whereas still a bit immature in others.
Now to the second part of the question: At the end of the day, we believe that delivering a superior frictionless experience on a modern platform with the use of an effective API strategy is a key to increasing speed to market in innovation. While APIs have the potential to encroach on banking products and services that traditional financial institutions have provided for centuries, there are also opportunities to expand offerings that could create new revenue streams. I believe blockchain may finally live up to its billing in crypto and payments innovation. As mentioned earlier, AI and advanced analytics are just starting to make an impact and will continue to be an investment area.
One thing is for sure, it is an incredibly exciting time to be in the Financial Services technology space. We at Finacle look forward to working with clients around the world on accelerating their digital transformations and successfully navigating the next evolution of our industry.
Thank you, John! That was fun and we hope to see you back on AiThority.com soon.
John Dangoia, Head of Product Management for the U.S. and Europe at Finacle, is a dynamic product and operations executive with 25+ years of experience leading growth in industry-leading banking and insurance businesses. Before joining Infosys, John was Vice President of Product Management at Fiserv in support of the company’s Financial & Risk Management Solutions (FRMS) Group.
Finacle is the industry-leading digital banking solution suite from EdgeVerve Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Infosys.
Finacle helps traditional and emerging financial institutions drive truly digital transformation to achieve frictionless customer experiences, larger ecosystem play, insights–driven interactions and ubiquitous automation.