The Indian financial sector is poised for sweeping changes to traditional models and we look to embrace game-changing developments in institutional form and digital infrastructure. These developments are expected to bring millions of new individual, household and small-business users into folds of the financial system but in doing so, they also bring unique challenges. How can financial services providers continue to provide solutions relevant to new market segments? What are the lessons to keep in mind in designing new products and delivering services through unconventional channels?
As readers of this blog might recall, we posed these questions to an all-star panel at the inaugural NSE-IFMR Finance Foundation Conference on Household Finance in March this year. The panel comprised of Anuradha Ramachandran, Director-Investments, Omidyar Networks, Ayush Chauhan, CEO, Quicksand, Chetna Vijay Sinha, Chair, Mann Deshi Mahila Sahakari Bank, Deepa Bachu, Co-Founder & CEO, Pensaar & Rajeev Ahuja, Head-Strategy, Retail, Financial Inclusion & Transaction Banking, Ratnakar Bank. In a lively and candid discussion on the challenge of successful innovation for financial inclusion, panellists shared their stories of success and failure, and fascinating insights on what it takes to embrace new technology and new thinking to deliver meaningful financial services.
For us, one of the biggest takeaways from the event was the rich discussion on customer insights. In the video (see below), you will hear many examples where an insightful understanding of the end-user could go on to make or break a product and practical and inexpensive ways in which practitioners can begin to uncover these insights in everyday interactions with customers. When similar techniques were applied to better understand frontline staff and bank agents, it powerfully informed not just product design but also the design of delivery channels and overall strategy.
We also asked the panellists how financial institutions can drive innovation within their organisations, really hoping to understand what elements of the ‘start-up culture’ are important to mimic, or adapt for larger financial institutions. Much to our surprise, we heard panellists strongly recommend looking away from disruptive innovators and more towards seeking to consolidate relative strengths and build on the diversity that exists within financial institutions. Rather than chase the elusive game-changing innovation or at least, even as we chase this dream, it’s equally as important to focus on innovations that are incremental that add efficiency or value to customers today. In this respect, large Indian financial institutions are indeed well-placed to lead the charge in innovative financial inclusion, with a strong commitment to delivering high value and a superior customer experience.
Watch the excerpts from the panel discussion in the video below: