RPA in Thailand and Japan’s retail banks

When shopping for RPA solutions, do you look for a company that provides a suite of end-to-end business automation solutions which allow different types of organisations to transform highly paper- or information-intensive business processes? These can enable you to reduce manual workflow for greater efficiency, lower costs, meet regulatory compliance requirements, mitigate risks, improve the customer experience, and other benefits.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA), uses analytics, solutions around PDF and document imaging, capture and cognitive capture in areas such as digitising paper-intensive operations, mobility and workflow.

To illustrate, let’s look at Krungsri Consumer, a subsidiary of Krungsri Bank, in Thailand. Krungsri Consumer is a leader in credit cards, personal loans and sales financing, with over nine million accounts and has the largest portfolio in Thailand. Krungsri Bank is is Thaland’s fifth largest by assets, loans and deposits.

Growing expectation in Thailand’s retail banking

Customer expectations around the quality, responsiveness and personalisation of services are growing constantly within Thailand’s retail banking sector and Krungsri Consumer not only had to meet but also exceed these expectations.

“Over the last five years we’ve seen a dramatic increase in customer demand for always-on, multi-channel services. To help us win new customers and foster the long-term loyalty of our existing account-holders, we are always looking for innovative ways to accelerate and reduce friction on the customer journey,” said  Dr. Lisa Patvivatsiri, Head of Business Transformation, Krungsri Consumer.

Krungsri Commerce realised that it eliminating time-consuming, manual processes would be a powerful way to boost efficiency and deliver higher-quality services to its customers, with the ultimate goal being to  let its customers sign up for services entirely digitally without having complete and sign any paper forms, so it decided to look for a repeatable, cost-efficient way to automate some of its manual processes in the back-office as well as customer-facing workflows.

So, it selected an RPA solution to create software robots to automate repetitive tasks and manual processes, whilst providing high-quality, personalised experiences which its customers expect and which is also scalable.

“Of all the solutions we considered, this RPA solution was the most impressive by far. Unlike many of the other platforms we considered, the drag-and-drop programming interface makes it very easy for non-technical personnel to create software robots to perform complex tasks,” said Dr. Patvivatsiri.

Krungsri Consumer and this RPA provider worked together to create a software robot that could complete its intraday liquidity reporting and management processes, which previously required 45 minutes of work at the beginning of each day.

“In the past, a member of our finance team had to manually check that each of our accounts had sufficient funds, perform funds transfers if necessary, and record all of the information in a large and complicated spreadsheet,” explains Dr. Patvivatsiri.“Other vendors we considered took as long as two working days to design a robot to automate this process, but this RPA solution created one in a matter of hours.

“Today, we use this RPA solution to drive our intraday liquidity process, which is now completely automated and takes just 15 minutes to complete.

“This RPA is extremely easy to use and maintain, which means we can develop software robots on the platform without relying on costly external consulting resources—boosting our return-on-investment significantly,” added Patvivatsiri.

With this RPA, Krungsri Consumer built a robot which automates the entire new-product application process for existing customers just in 9 seconds compared to two minutes previously, and this has saved its telesales team almost 1,000 hours of manual work and its contact centre teams are saving around  707 hours per month.

The RPA also enabled Krungsri Consumer to deliver faster and more accurate  account services. For instance, it can now process customers’ requests to change their credit-card’s due date immediately, instead of 150 hours when done manually. Also, customer can update their accounts within 30 seconds and this has saved the bank 1,800 hours per year whilst eliminating the risk of human error.

“We estimate that our 24 software robots are contributing to an overall productivity boost of 85% across the business, saving 5,500 person-hours or 30 full-time equivalents [FTEs] per month. Automation is helping our 6,000 employees focus on what really matters: delivering an outstanding service to our customers,” said Dr. Patvivatsiri.

Based on the success of its deployment of this particular RPA solution, Krungsri Consumer is now using it together with its smart-process application development and deployment platform to deliver workflow automation for three key process areas: underwriting, collection and IT user account management. For its incident management team, the combination of the company’s platform and RPA has reduced turnaround time from 18 working days down to just 10 hours, 48% which could ultimately could ultimately result in a 75% reduction in person-hours per year.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, Krungsri Consumer deployed robots in auto adjustment of customers’ accounts to refinance their loans to provide financial relief such as minimum repayment or to allow them to skip repayments.

“Looking ahead, we plan to build on our success with these solutions to automate customer-facing processes such as account-opening – helping us deliver an even higher-quality banking experience,” concluded Dr. Patvivatsiri.

Japan’s banking landscape

Meanwhile, over in Japan, local banks currently face decreased workforces, low interest rates and different industries entering the financial industry, all while responding quickly to customer needs.

To overcome these challenges, Hiroshima Bank has addressed workstyle innovation and digital transformation in their mid-term plan with the introduction of this particular brand’s RPA and as a result, the bank has successfully reduced about 20,000 hours for about 30 business operations annually and improved the customer experience.

“Furthermore, with the rapid change in customer behaviour as digital technology advances, there are situations where traditional business models need to be changed radically,” says Kazuma Yabuki, Hiroshima Bank Director of Digital Strategy Department.

His department had been working on three pillars: creating new regional businesses, promoting the utilisation of data and thoroughly improving operational efficiency using digital technologies and Mr. Yabuki is mainly responsible for promoting collaboration with fintech companies and RPA.

“One of the three pillars in the medium-term plan is to promote work style innovation. The goal is to provide high-value-added services for customers by eliminating inefficient tasks or outdated work styles thoroughly such as ‘paper’, ‘seal’, ‘meetings’, and ‘hard-copy of materials’.

Hiroshima Bank also wanted to use digital technology to reform its corporate culture, its system, its business,and to provide and improved customer experience. So the bank decided that the best way to achieve these objectives was to robotise its office processes and introduce RPA.

So in 2017, Mr. Yabuki started comparing RPA tools by collecting information and decided to select the best RPA solution based on five criteria – namely to provide enough support in Japanese within Japan, providing high performance at a reasonable cost with functionality and scalability, ease of development with an intuitive user interface and no programming needed. The installed base must be recognised at any Japanese financial institutions and the system configuration should be server-based.

Cost-savings and time-savings

So, Hiroshima Bank selected this brand for the bank’s support team in Japan, for its scalability, that it lets the bank’s people develop robots through the user interface exclusively for ease of interoperability, that several huge banks in Japan, major life insurance companies and major credit sales organisations use this solution, that there are about 600 customers outside of Japan, including the Department of Defense and major enterprises in the United States.

With the RPA system being server-based, it’s cheaper since its cost is calculated based upon the number of robots running at any one time, instead of the number of PCs a piece of software is installed on, or the number of users.

Also, Mr. Yabuki can minimise the investment by increasing the utilisation rate through scheduled management.

“Considering the large-scale deployment of RPA in the future, the cost of licensing becomes more expensive because the desktop type needs to be installed into each PC so it will be more difficult to grasp the “stray robot” that each person creates without permission. It’s easy to understand if it’s a server type, and we can do smooth governance. In addition, we can centralise our development and operational know-how and minimise the cost of education to develop skills,” said Mr. Yabuki.

Hiroshima Bank introduced this RPA for their point service’s registration task, which automatically grants customers’ points for each transaction, and various services and benefits can be obtained according to total points earned, unlike previously when an operator at its headquarters had to manually extract customer transaction data, then register and confirm services.

As a result, Hiroshima Bank was able to save approximately 20,000 hours at about 30 operations in total, annually.

“We believe that the reduced time will be effective in improving the customer experience and promoting work style reforms, such as deeper communication with customers, development of new services, or reduction in working hours. As a result, Hiroshima Bank can become a regional comprehensive service company that continues to grow with local customers,” said Mr Yabuki.