No more waiting! How DBS Bank helped save 4.5 million hours for thousands of truck owners and drivers in India

Mr Lau Jia Cai and two former classmates from Presbyterian High set up TreeDots in 2017. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

DBS Bank developed a customised API-driven digital solution for real-time money transfers to truck owners and drivers.

Mr Manoj Kumar is on the road almost every day – 30 days a month, 12 months a year – working as a truck driver. It’s no walk in the park – it is difficult job requiring not just physical endurance but mental fortitude for those days on the road.

In India, road freight moves nearly 65% of the cargo. Truckers have an important job, ensuring that goods and supplies get to where they are needed. During the lockdown imposed to stem the spread of Covid-19, their job became even more critical, as truckers have the heightened responsibility to ferry food, medicine and other essential items across the length and breadth of the country.

Especially in situations like these, time is of the essence. Whereas these drivers would once see a delay of up to 24 hours before they could start their journeys, they can now do so promptly due to a new digital solution developed by DBS Bank.

The solution was developed for the Transport Corporation of India Limited (TCI) – one of the largest logistics and transportation service providers in India, with a network of around 25,000 truck owners and drivers.

Previously, the drivers would have to visit local centres to collect advance payments in cash before they started their trip. The cash was needed for road tolls and food expenses, says Mr Kumar.

“We would have to wait in the office, while truck owners go to the bank to withdraw money for us,” he explains. “That sometimes caused late deliveries, resulting in losses for both the company and transport owners.”

With this customised API-driven digital solution, truck owners and drivers can get real-time money transfers.

“Now that we receive payments directly into our accounts, we don’t face any problems during the journey,” says Mr Kumar. “If we need cash, we can withdraw from any ATM, make the payment and keep moving.”

Without needing to rush to make up for the lost time, truckers are also to get more rest for safer drives.

Explaining the decision to partner the bank to implement this API-driven solution, Mr Vineet Agarwal, Managing Director, TCI, says, “At some point in time, we realised that we needed to break this chain of delayed payments to the system, to the ecosystem as a whole.”

“Covid has helped the evolution of digitisation in India to accelerate, because of the fact that the availability of other modes of transaction had come down dramatically. Nobody wanted to deal with cash. Nobody wanted to deal with cheques.”

This unique solution, he adds, is not only fast but also completely transparent. For TCI and the Indian road freight stakeholders, it translates to nearly 4.5 million hours saved every year.

Divyesh Dalal, MD & Head - Global Transaction Services, DBS Bank India says, “At DBS, we anticipate customer needs and offer solutions that meet their end-to-end requirement. In this case, we were able to help TCI improve their payments system which in turn has benefitted the truck owners and drivers, thereby aligning with our commitment to supporting lives and livelihoods.”