CreditAccess Grameen Limited (CA Grameen) is India’s largest microfinance institution, with a mission to balance economic growth with social responsibility to bring about lasting and meaningful change in the lives of its clients from the bottom of the pyramid. Today, the company’s footprint spans 14 states and 1 UT, powered by a network of over 1,681 branches with over 15,600 employees, serving over 36.8+ lakh customers.
Technology forms the backbone of the company’s operations, with the company equipping all field staff with portable tabs and taking proactive steps to enable paperless customer onboarding and KYC processes, says Sudesh Puthran, Chief Technology Officer, CreditAccess Grameen Limited
Some edited excerpts:
Sudesh, you have been part of large financial services organizations. How different is the role of technology in a microfinance institution like CreditAccess Grameen Limited?
Micro-finance institutions like ours deal with large numbers of rural people. Therefore, the technology must be extremely easy to use and scale. The scale is also on another level, as we do collections every week and process over 60,000 to 70,000 loan applications per day. We have a digital and mobile mindset and all of our loan officers are equipped with a TAB device. Most of our debt collectors are not digitally savvy and therefore systems need to be designed accordingly as our collections volumes are almost 3-4 times that of loan applications. Overall we process approx. 1.2 million transactions per day on our Core Banking system. We also need to design our systems to work offline, as connectivity in many rural areas is negligible. Technology plays a vital role in all our operations and is therefore not an option, but part of our DNA.
What are some of the customer-focused initiatives undertaken by CreditAccess Grameen Limited?
Today, all field staff are equipped with portable tabs to manage Kendra meetings and collections. We have an automated/paperless customer onboarding process, which helps speed up KYC and other checks. We have also geolocated our Kendra sites to optimize field visits. The technology enables us to perform same day disbursement of loans across all lending branches of the group, applicable to non-revenue generating loans of less than Rs 15,000. Loan updates are provided to all clients via SMS for status related to loan disbursement – NEFT status, bank account updates, repayments received, etc.
We also introduced RPA for NEFT disbursements/reconciliations and many activities in business operations, which helped improve overall productivity and TAT. Through the digital customer onboarding process, we have the capacity to process over 2.3 million inquiries per month with over 1.2 million new digitally enabled customers. Our GrameenPay app has been tested in 76 branches, recording 17,021 successful transactions with a success rate of 60%, which equates to a cash withdrawal of Rs. 7.16 cr.
We also created a centralized help desk which led to a 99.9% resolution rate, with 93% of cases resolved within 7 days and over 80% of cases resolved within 3 days. Additionally, streamlining and automating the customer onboarding process at RPCs (Regional Processing Centers) resulted in a 10-15% reduction in denials and an 18% increase in the average number of documents processed. per employee.
What are some of the recent initiatives taken to improve your infrastructure?
We have increased the scalability of the digital field application to handle concurrent loads and high volumes, as well as offline functionality to reduce reliance on CBS (core banking solution) leading to a time faster response. We also enabled real-time calculation of loan eligibility based on credit bureau data and loan applications, reducing loan processing time.
The CBS upgrade project was initiated in FY21, which will be completed in FY22, resulting in significantly improved functional flexibilities, scale, and enabling seamless integration with APIs and external technology ecosystems. Robotic process automation has been implemented to improve cashless disbursement and loan application processing. The internal audit system has also been enhanced to enable audit analysis, intelligence and MIS. We will also consider collaborating with fintechs to digitize relevant functions and operations.