Union Bank Of India Is India s First Metaverse Bank CTO Anil Kuril – BW Businessworld

How is Union Bank’s hold on Metaverse currently?

Union Bank is the first bank in the country to use Metaverse for its digital banking solutions. We launched the new generation service last year, which is known as the “Uni-Verse”, a virtual lounge where customers can choose their avatar to enter into the virtual lounge and explore the interactive service which enables users to browse through various schemes and products of the bank. Our 3D virtual space is meant to create, share and benefit customers from a host of new opportunities, delivering immersive user experiences and an emotional touch to customers.

We have witnessed nearly 45,000 users, customers and noncustomers on our metaverse site recently and on a daily basis around 2000 leads are generated at regular intervals on the websites which are for various products and their inquiries. So, we are seeing a lot of traction in the metaverse. But the only question is whether it will become mainstream or not in the future.

How is Union Bank of India integrating generative AI across products and services?

Union Bank of India (UBI) has created an AI-based analytical centre of excellence to analyse the data, built on its various AI&ML models that churn the data, to understand the customer behaviour to offer them the right kind of services and products at the right time. We are continuously upgrading the digital infrastructure with advanced technology and have a large team responsibly working on the analytics and building a model from that. Our AI/ML models are not only on the customer side but are also meant to monitor consumers’ banking behaviour. This helps us to track the red-flagging activities of any customer’s irregular loan payments, wrong identity proofs, etc.

Our models are currently not large language models (LLMs), they are an artificial heuristic model, a machine learning model that continuously analyses the customer data. Currently, we are looking forward to building a conversational AI to develop a ChatGPT-like feature that will translate customers’ audio queries and reply it either in text or verbal form.

Could you tell us about the digital talent hiring of UBI?

Considering the digital surge in banking, we are hiring and even upskilling our own talent. Wherever we have the racing need for the new age skills, we are hiring from the market but it is more on a contractual basis. We are more into upskilling our old employees and we are training them according to the newest technological advancements. In fact, we are running a very large programme for reskilling our IT professionals on the new technology edges, whether it’s Python or even prompt engineering and all those kinds of things.

What roles are in vogue in digital banking? What is Union Bank doing better than others in terms of tech? 

Union Bank of India is way ahead in digital banking solutions than any other bank in the country. The big leap is possible because we have identified the need for digital transformation. Today almost 80 per cent of our customers’ transactions are through the digital channel and only a mere 20 per cent of the customer group visits the branch physically for their banking needs. We, as a public-sector bank, have rightly discovered the digital banking services that are in vogue, which includes speed and reactivity, security and privacy, radical transparency and open banking.

What are your plans to retain your digital lead?

Our digital transformation started around two and a half years ago and we are continuously building blocks of a digital transformation. But we understand that being ahead of the curve does not really mean that the position can be retained without any evolution. As India is on its digital journey the digital tug of war cannot be avoided. The competitors are always trying to improve their digital solutions and we need to stay updated with the technological shifts. We are investing largely in technology while offering some of the best services on our digital application. Our digital applications are meant for every section of the society be it farmers, MSMEs, corporates, common individuals, etc.

What are Union Bank’s proactive measures amidst growing cyber threats or challenges?

I can proudly say that Union Bank of India has one of the best cybersecurity systems in the country within the banking industry, both private sector and public sector. We have been continuously winning the Indian Bank Association (IBA) banking technology award. Last year, we won in the categories of  ‘Best Technology Bank’, ‘Best IT Risk Management’ and ‘Best Technology Talent’. This clearly underlines that we have one of the best cybersecurity systems in the country among the banks that can protect customer data and transactions.