Jaya built an early warning system for banks


After her bachelors in Computer engineering, Jaya Vaidhyanathan did her MBA because she was interested in building businesses. She started her career as an investment banker on Wall Street. “I began working in a male dominated and unapologetically gender biased workplace. I had a child and my colleagues called it ‘career suicide’. But I did well because I knew technology, which gave me the edge,” she says.
She specialised in M&As across technology, telecom, and utilities verticals. She went on to head HCL’s large deals business and won their first massive deal of $780 million. She was in Accenture as a managing partner. In 2009, she decided to work for Standard Chartered in India to be with her family. This introduced her to the banking sector.
She’s now CEO at BCT Digital, a company that makes software for banks and financial institutions. Here, Jaya led a team that built an early warning system (EWS) to assist banks in dealing with stressed assets and defaulters before the money is loaned. The system allows banks to summon the information needed in minutes, and score the individual or even a corporation to determine whether they’re eligible for loans or not.
The journey to build an EWS began six years ago with Jaya publishing a paper on the increasing NPAs in private and public banks. “Once the money has left the bank it takes several years to be repaid. And there will be potential problems of litigation and losses. The idea was to look at it from a preventive perspective rather than a forensic one. The warning alerts us to stop the lending with evidence to back the decision,” she says.
The system uses traditional data, such as repayment history, along with elements of softer and unstructured data about the customer. Until recently, such systems had no access to private credit bureau data, but now have built API layers to access them.
When they began building the system, the technologies were just emerging, and RBI had not defined many alerts. But now, a lot more alerts have been defined. In the beginning, the workflow of the project was simple and Jaya hired a handful of software engineers and bankers. Since then, the team has grown and so has the process, she says.
“Things have drastically changed from when I started working. Women are a welcome addition and the thriving digital transformation provides ample opportunity for everyone. Technology is no longer an enabler but is the business,” she says.





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