As courier services were disrupted during the lockdown, private lender RBL Bank was unable to deliver credit cards to customers who got an approval. The bank started immediately issuing a virtual card through its app for such customers.
There were limited avenues where customers could use their physical cards. “They could at least start using the card online until their physical card arrives,” said Sankarson Banerjee, chief information officer at RBL Bank.
While digital KYC (know your customer) resolved the problem of customer acquisition, card issuers still had to service the existing customers. They had to resort to technology to ensure that they attend to problems of existing customers.
In mid-May, RBL Bank also launched its WhatsApp banking services. Within 45 days of the launch, 45% of the bank’s customers adopted it. Most customers used it for getting their credit card statements. “The fast adoption to WhatsApp banking surprised us,” said Banerjee.
During the lockdown, one of the challenges for card issuers was answering customer queries. The strength of their call centres and other support executives was considerably reduced as employees couldn’t commute to work.
Card issuers had to ramp up or start other options for addressing customers’ queries. SBI Cards and Payment Services Ltd, for example, asked customers to use the chatbot services, which can handle most common queries of customers such as card outstanding, card statement, rewards point summary, and so on.
According to card issuers, the only option for them was to move customers to self-service channels. RBL Bank, which also saw customer interactions with chatbot jump six times during the lockdown, ramped up its app. It introduced new features such as spend analyzer and focussed on reducing the number of steps customers would need to find answers to their queries.
Even smaller players such as BOB Financial Solutions Ltd (BFSL), which were lagging in technology, took measures to ensure that they adapt to the changing customer demands. “We realized that customers don’t want physical interaction. They even want to avoid swiping their credit cards,” said Shailendra Singh, MD and CEO, BFSL, a non-banking financial company, which a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bank of Baroda.
BFSL has signed up with Fiserv, a US-based financial services technology company, to completely revamp its digital strategy. It will enable the card issuer to offer virtual cards and contactless cards. /Virtual card is a digital copy of the physical card. Contactless cards work on a technology called near-field communication (NFC) where the card can exchange data with a point of sale (PoS) terminal when in close proximity just like it happen in case of Bluetooth.
The company will also introduce a separate app for cardholders. The bank will also increase security during credit card transactions by using tokenization, a process that turns a meaningful piece of data, such as an account number, into a random string of characters called a token, which has no meaningful value if breached.
Just like in the case of digital KYC and unsecured loans, card issuers are trying to make customers’ journey entirely digital—from application to servicing.