Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected over 10 million persons and claimed over 500,000 lives. The increasing numbers are an extremely dangerous trend. While there are no signs of the pandemic slowing down and a vaccine seems elusive, taking the strictest precautions seems like the only way to defeat the coronavirus. The standard precaution that has become the global norm is ‘social distancing’ which prohibits large gatherings, crowds, meetings, etc. This move has resulted in serious implications such as closing down of several public facilities and businesses viz. Gymnasiums, spas, schools, companies, etc. Essential services like hospitals, medical labs, banks, postal services, etc. are working at reduced capacity but are fully functional. 

At the same time, governments are strongly discouraging citizens from getting out of their homes for work and shopping needs. “Going Digital” is the new mantra and Work From Home (WFH) is the new normal around the world. Although countries like the United States and India are gradually easing the lockdown, people remain wary of the risk of infection and are heavily relying on digital services and artificial intelligence. This scenario, although unfortunate, presents a huge opportunity for digitization.

 

Corporate heavyweights such as Cairn Oil and Gas have fully integrated its operations with cloud computing, artificial intelligence and remote collaboration (How Digitization is helping Cairn India during Covid-19 crisis, 2020). IT giant Wipro’s chairman Rishad Premji, recently announced that his company will never go back to the old ways of working 100%; that the new normal of WFH is what the company plans to adhere to. (Will never come back to 100% work from office: Wipro’s Rishad Premji, 2020). 

Keshav Murugesh, CEO- Business Process Management, WNS is certain that WFH will continue in the post-COVID-19 world as well. WNS transported almost 25 lakh desktops within a fortnight to employees’ homes to ensure business continuity and the company is leveraging the new normal.

 

According to the ‘2020 Remote Work From Home Cybersecurity’ report,  63% of organizations had up to 25% of employees working remotely before COVID-19. Now over 75% of their employees are working from home. (Enterprise Talk, 2020). Hence digital service providers have reason to rejoice.

 

What this means for the Banking Sector

 

According to the Economic Times, the ‘Leaders’ that integrate a mobile-first approach for their services will quickly see improvements in ROIs and earn their customers’ trust. “Automating processes and improving customer communication by implementing new-age digital solutions should be the way forward for banks moving on.” According to the World Economic Forum, a 2020 research survey found that 82% of consumers were concerned about visiting their bank branch and 63% showed a willingness to try digital apps for banking needs. Banks are thus making a beeline for fintech firms. Interesting trends of “neobanks” or fully online banks are making an appearance in Singapore, USA and Europe as well. According to Finder.com, by 2025, 43% of Indians will have a digital bank account and Emarketer states that the business value of AI in global banking will reach $300 billion by 2030 as 47% of worldwide companies want to work with a fintech firm.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has thus provided a huge opportunity for Digitization. Moreover, in the fintech sector, banks are increasing dependency on the former for engaging and seamless customer experience. In addition, banks will reduce operation costs drastically as more employees work from home and customers rely on digital banking.

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