Nafees Ahmed, Group CIO, Indiabulls Group has set his mind on being what he calls a “change instigator”, one who takes a lead on technology-led business transformation.
Nafees Ahmed, Group CIO, Indiabulls Group has set his mind on being what he calls a “change instigator”, one who takes a lead on technology-led business transformation. And rightly so. The launch of Indiabulls Housing Finance Limited’s e-home loan platform, a first of its kind around a month and a half back, is a huge step in this direction.
In an interaction with Ashwani Mishra, Ahmed reveals the details of this unique digital innovation, the integration approach, challenges faced and the benefits expected.
Q. The launch of your e-home loan service is a first of its kind, allowing applicants to avail home loans online. Can you take us through the business need and how technology helped you to achieve this?
If you look at the overall mortgage industry, the last few years have been considerably decent in terms of growth. However, from a technology standpoint many of the processes still involved customers going to the branches and getting involved in heaps of paperwork. There were a few companies who used technology to reduce this manual process, but it has been in bits and pieces, for instance providing an online application form, collecting processing fee online etc.
There was no end-to-end platform where a customer/ borrower could digitally sign a loan proposal, submit documents electronically and get an approval based on salary documents all from a computer or tablet.
We wanted to fill this gap, and so began our work in creating an e-home loan platform. Numerous processes were defined. There were intensive discussions with our credit, sales, operations and analytic teams. Several prototypes were created, discarded and created again till we found the right fit, which was then showcased to the management to get their buy-in.
We integrated the e-signing facility allowing customers to self-attest their documents using the OTP sent to their registered mobile number with Aadhar. E-sign is also being considered by the government to be part of the Sarfaesi Act.
Q. How do you decide or more correctly put, analyze digitally on this integrated platform, if an applicant is worthy of a loan? Have you eliminated the process of collecting bank statements in physical form?
We have an option, and for this we partnered with a company called Perfios Software Solutions that helps us in retrieving bank statements of loan applicants online. So a loan applicant can come to our e-home loan site, and make a decision of submitting bank statement online.
When one clicks on the online option, it will take the applicant to a third party website, which is Perfios in this case. From a list of banks, the applicant can choose his/her bank and login with their credentials. The applicant credentials are kept for 5-10 seconds and later destroyed. During this time the bank statement of the last six months is generated in electronic form. We then run the analysis on the statement and create a one page report that equips us to either sanction or reject a loan request based on several parameters. This process of analysis earlier took around 10 hours and can now be done in minutes.
Q. What are the other digital features that have gone into making of this integrated platform?
The e-Home Loan process is powered by a host of tech features that would make the home loan process quick, convenient and transparent. The whole idea and effort has been to get the consumer and lender closer together, and in order to achieve a better outcome for both, and remove a bunch of steps along the way.
Take the One Click Loan Approval feature where a customer can receive an approval in principle for a home loan. The feature will provide a customer with the amount they are eligible, thereby assuring a speedy process thereafter. For this process we partnered with the National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL) that carries out the online PAN verification of the customer.
The e-Sign feature allows customers the facility to electronically sign documents that they upload for their home loan application. This facility will enable an Aadhar card holder to remotely self-attest document uploaded using a one-time password or OTP. We partnered with the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) for this, and it is the first time a mortgage player has implemented this in its process.
We also tied up with Samsung to introduce tablets enabled with retina identification to facilitate e-KYC with which customers personal verification will be expedited. Through these tabs, we want to increase the efficiency for file processing, minimize manual errors and reduce turn-around time by extending competencies from the e-home loan process to sales personnel too.
The platform is mobile friendly across platforms. Along with the mobile app we have incorporated fingerprint access, so that users don’t have to remember their password. One can also login from their Facebook account.
Q. What is unique with this project, and how long did it take for you to implement this? Also, on an average, how fast can customers expect the loan disbursement? What have been the business benefits achieved, though I know it’s too early for you to quantify?
We were the first company in Asia and Europe to have done this kind of a project in our industry using e-KYC and e-sign that is relatively new.
We only have to wait for the field verification process and once the reports are in, the credit takes place. We are in a position to disburse the loan within 2-3 days.
The whole process right from conceptualizing, creating and rolling out the platform took us around a year and a half.
Our sales executives spent 60-70 percent of their time running for documents. They are free now and it directly translates into immense productive time. Another area has been around convenience and increase in process transparency.
The entire project has been customer focused. I feel if the customer has a better experience your internal processes automatically becomes smooth and efficient. We have already started to receive mails from customers appreciating this initiative.
Q. What were some of the challenges that you faced in the execution of this project. Please highlight a couple of them?
There were plenty of them. It was not the actual implementation but overall process designing and following the guidelines that took considerable time. For example, it took me three months to convince my legal team that the e-sign is valid and legal. We had to check the regulatory compliance.
Another challenge was embracing this change of automation. The biggest fear or resistance to automation is that people feel that the use of IT will make them redundant. We had to convince and make them understand that it would make them more productive and there was no need for apprehension.