UNION Bank’s marked technological advancement in recent times is a major element of its transformation programme which kicked off in 2015 and has included there definition of the Bank’s business model, reengineering of its work force and rebuilding of its physical infrastructure. Recently, the Bank became the first to adopt the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology, a cutting edge technology which automates repetitive back end processes, freeing up employees to handle more strategic tasks.
Nath Ude, executive director, Union Bank of Nigeria, who heads the bank’s Services and Technology Department in this interview discusses the Bank’s adoption of the technology and how it has improved its processes.
Please tell us in simple terms what Robotic Process Automation (RPA) means?
Robots are software tools engaged to simplify business process delivery. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the technology behind this development. The interesting thing about this technology is that it automates repetitive tasks without altering existing infrastructure and systems. Many people assume it is the same thing as Artificial Intelligence but it’s different.
What are some of the benefits of RPA for organisations that adopt this technology?
The adoption of the Robotic Process Automationtechnology offers a wide range of benefits including improved business efficiency, data security and effectiveness. These are some of the factors which differentiate organisations, like Union Bank, who have adopted RPA, giving us acompetitive edge in the market.
Other benefits of adopting RPA include cost savings, reduced cycle time as well as improved accuracy and compliance which culminate in enhanced productivity for organisations that adopt the technology All of these are benefits which we at Union Bank have accrued since our adoption of the RPA technology.
How has Union Bank actually adopted this technology in its operations?
As the very first bank in Nigeria to embrace this innovation, our adoption of RPA stems majorly from our central objective to leverage technology and innovation to deliver on our promise of providing simpler, smarter banking services to our customers. For us, ensuring excellent service delivery across our various touch points is paramount and RPA helps us achieve this.
In the first phase of itsdeployment at Union Bank, the reconciliation of all Automated Teller Machine (ATM) transactions has now been automated across the bank. This has resulted in prompt and accurate reconciliation of these transactions as against a previous manual process which took place across over 250 Union Bank branchesin Nigeria.
In tangible terms, this means ourATM reconciliation time has been reduced by over 60%. For our customers, the benefit of adopting this technology for this process is that it has also improved our turnaround time for processing customers’ refunds for failed transactions on our ATMs. Where normally they had to wait two to three days to get their refund, they will now get it faster and with less hassle. For us, this will increase customers’ confidence in our services which we are quite happy about.
With this innovation, are there any concerns for the security of customers’ data?
Customers’ data remains secure and even more so. Union Bank was recently certified to Global standards of Information Security Management – International Organisation for Standardisation ISO/IEC 27001:2013 standard and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) version 3.2 standard which provide optimum assurance that our data is secure.
Do we anticipate any quality issues with the deployment of RPA in the Bank’s processes?
The way RPA functions are that it will follow the rules exactly how they are programmed. Once you program it right and test properly before launching, there is no risk that the program will forget any step. Our service assurance teams set rigorous processes to ensure the right program is set up for our RPA.Adequate measures have also been put in place to ensure benchmarked quality standards are met.
What does the introduction of RPA portend for the Staff of Union Bank? Will this new development lead to loss of jobs?
One of the major reasons for the introduction of RPA is actually to drive staff productivity. The focus is to enhance output by freeing up our employees to focus on more strategic and value adding activities such as interfacing with customers and solving their individual and business needs. We need our employees for this important work.
Regardless of the technological innovations we adopt, at every point in time, we are looking to be the right size; to be optimally staffed with respect to the available roles. This is why we are one of the few banks in Nigeria that has a formal conversion process for our employees in support functions to transition into full time roles.