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Interview with ACKO General Insurance's Shashank Bajpai

June 07, 2019
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The banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector is at the forefront of adopting information and communications technology (ICT) in India. Enterprises across the vertical are fast deploying various technology-based solutions to improve business efficiency and deliver better customer experience. Emerging technologies such as big data analytics, internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence and blockchain are making inroads into the financial services sector in the form of chatbots, cryptocurrency, etc. The government’s increased focus on the development of a digital and cashless ecosystem has also significantly altered the IT requirements and functioning of enterprises in this sector. Meanwhile, owing to the sensitive and confidential nature of consumer data, data privacy and cybersecurity have become crucial for the efficient functioning of enterprises in the industry. Shashank Bajpai, Chief Information Security Officer, ACKO General Insurance Limited discusses the company's strategies, technology trends and cybersecurity readiness...

What are your views on the adoption of emerging technologies such as big data analytics, IoT, artificial intelligence and blockchain in the BFSI industry?

Digital India has been adopted in its true spirit by the BFSI industry. We now have mobile wallets, the option of UPI payments, cashbacks and remittances via payment gateways. The BFSI industry has entered the “technology age” very rapidly for the ease of end user accessibility like no other industry.

Even when it comes to business usage, the BFSI industry is adopting and evaluating many applications based on big data analytics and artificial intelligence. Blockchain has only been seen as a currency technology or bitcoin in the finance sector, but the true benefits of blockchain as a concept are currently being evaluated, especially in the banking segment.

Regulatory authorities in India, such as the Reserve Bank of India, IRDAI and the Securities and Exchange Board of India, have been providing directives and encouraging businesses to adapt to the technology revolution on the ground level.

What are the key ICT solutions being deployed by your organisation?

As the digital insurer of India, we at ACKO aim to adopt the technologies that are the best in the industry. Also, being an insurtech organisation, we are undertaking significant in-house technical development and adopting machine learning to ensure operational effectiveness. We have applied artificial intelligence to our in-house applications. Our platform’s end goal is to ensure minimal data input and minimal effort from the users. At the same time, we aim to ensure that the customer understands the product in the complete sense with all its perils and exclusions.

How has the government focus on a digital and cashless ecosystem altered your IT requirements and functions?

A digital and cashless ecosystem is the precise need of the hour. In this age of groundbreaking disruptive technologies, India is all set to be the digital economy of the future. The government’s focus on such an ecosystem has given a big push to new-age insurance firms like ours. The directives, guidelines and support from the regulatory authorities for the digital ecosystem are also highly appreciated.

Our IT requirements and functions are always aligned with our business strategy, which visualises and maximises the potential of the digital economy.

What are your views on cybersecurity readiness in the BFSI space? What solutions have you deployed to ensure data security?

The finance sector witnesses more cyberattacks than any other industry, making global financial cybercrime one of the biggest threats to the industry. The Asian region is certainly not immune to this and many countries, including India, have seen a steady increase in organised cybercrime.

Data is the new oil/currency of the world and thus cyber governance is of utmost importance, to protect data and deter any breach or leakage of data. There are various solutions and controls implemented in order to ensure data security.

The ability to detect the subtlest change in activity and analyse it with as much context as possible to distinguish and eliminate new threats is the key to an end-to-end immune-like approach against any leakage. At ACKO, we have deployed fully integrated and advanced technologies with leading security analytics solutions as part of our next-generation security operation centre. These are implemented at the enterprise level and help understand and respond to sophisticated threats across networks, endpoints and users. If a similar approach was adopted in the BFSI space, it would not only have helped financial organisations to keep up with the latest threat intelligence, but would also have allowed them to leverage this information to improve internal detection.

What are the key technology trends that will shape the BFSI segment going forward?

BFSI has been at the forefront of utilising the new-age technologies to their maximum potential. In the near future, the BFSI business will be dominated and driven by artificial intelligence and consumer behaviour based analytics. Data will be mined further, and new data points will be determined with the use of IoT, which will give businesses more insights in order to strategise better.

As I perceive, technology is the backbone of the BFSI industry and it will be driving the business goals and strategies of these enterprises going forward.

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