CIO Jaybalan Goonahsylin is hitting the right chord


The rock star CIO propels iMasFinance to greater digitalisation heights.

Jaybalan Goonahsylin, group CIO at iMasFinance, dreamed of becoming a rock star when he was young. Although he chose a career in tech and innovation, his rockstar mentality has propelled iMasFinance’s digital transformation journey.

As a youngster, Jaybalan’s love of music led him to learn how to play the guitar with friends and he played for fun, entertaining the neighbourhood on the streets of their little town.

In the fast-paced tech industry, Jaybalan finds music to be a de-stressing outlet. He is a collector of guitars, and he plays them regularly to relax and recharge.

“I really love music and that’s the one thing that I’ve continued on, but because of the pressures that come with being in the corporate world, I now just play the guitar to get lost in my own world,” says the father of two.

And just as music is an ongoing journey starting from composition to arranging, tracking, editing, mixing and mastering, Jaybalan says that digital transformation is an ongoing journey that is bringing the 85-year-old finance company into the digital age.

He is a seasoned IT executive with more than 25 years of experience across the telco, ICT and financial services environments, which includes more than 15 years of senior IT management experience. In his current role he is accountable for all aspects of group IT including governance and strategy, providing technology vision and leadership in the development and implementation of the company’s digital transformation strategy.

When he realised becoming a rock star was out of the question, Jaybalan started his career as an electronic and network technician before joining Telkom as an IT Specialist in 1998. He quickly rose through the ranks and held several positions, including system engineer, infrastructure engineer, solution architect, and enterprise and business architecture within the Telkom Group during his 22-year journey and was promoted to executive of business intelligence of Openserve in 2016 before joining iMasFinance as group CIO in 2019.

Transforming personal finance

Shortly after joining iMas, Jaybalan recognised the urgent need to transform the business from its traditional operating model into a fintech organisation.

“The financial services industry in particular, experienced significant technological developments in the last few years to improve client experience, financial inclusion and online security,” he explains. “iMas Finance is no stranger to digital transformation and has embarked on its own digital enablement journey to transform the way in which it engages with its clients. Technological developments shape the trajectory of how financial transactions are done.”

According to Jaybalan, the financial services industry has witnessed significant developments in recent years. Fintech companies have disrupted traditional services with innovative solutions like mobile payments, digital wallets, and blockchain-based services. Digital currencies, including cryptocurrencies and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), gained momentum, reshaping the concept of money.

“Open banking expanded, allowing customers to securely share data with third-party providers, leading to new financial products. Adoption of AI and ML improved risk assessment and customer service,” he adds.

“Sustainability and ESG investing became more prominent. Neo-banks (digital only) gained popularity, offering user-friendly and innovative banking experiences often with lower fees and faster onboarding processes. Contactless payments and mobile wallets saw increased adoption, while big tech companies explored their presence in finance, offering financial products through their platforms.”

Jaybalan adds that digital enablement in the financial services industry is vital for staying competitive, improving customer satisfaction, achieving operational efficiency, and unlocking new opportunities for growth and innovation.

“Digital enablement allows financial institutions to offer convenient, user-friendly, and personalised services to their customers,” he says. “Automation and digitisation of processes streamline operations, reduce paperwork, and cut down manual errors, leading to increased efficiency and cost savings for financial institutions.”

Digital technologies, Jaybalan explains, enable the collection and analysis of vast amounts of data. “Financial institutions can leverage this data to gain valuable insights into customer preferences, behaviour and needs, which can inform the development of targeted products and services.”

He believes that as technology continues to evolve, digital enablement will remain a key driver of success for financial institutions. It allows them to adapt to evolving customer expectations and stay ahead of disruptive market forces.

“At iMas Finance, business enablement and customer experience are strategically positioned at the centre of our digital strategy. The key objective of this strategy is to enable the business to remain competitive in today’s rapidly changing business environment by leveraging digital technologies.”

Next generation digital technologies

Jaybalan says that several emerging technologies will have a significant impact on the financial services industry. These include artificial intelligence and machine learning for enhanced customer service and risk assessment, blockchain and distributed ledger technology for secure and transparent transactions, IoT for real-time data collection, 5G technology for faster communication networks, quantum computing for complex problem-solving, RegTech for streamlined compliance, and biometric authentication for heightened security are among these.

The adoption and influence of these technologies will depend on various factors, but they hold the potential to reshape finance and drive innovation.

“Our digital journey will continue as new opportunities arise through the adoption of AI and the emergence of other next generation digital technologies. Myself along with my team will constantly evaluate the use cases of these technologies to identify the benefits and value to our business evolution, to ensure that we remain relevant in a highly competitive fintech market,” Jaybalan concludes.

Related articles

Faith Burn: I love my country, the continent and its people

Eskom's CIO Faith Burn explains that working for a state-owned entity is the great sign of patriotism – it’s what motivates her as a leader. She encourages everyone to at least once in their life explore the opportunity to work for an SOE.

Getting to know extreme sports enthusiast Willem Deyzel

CIO South Africa recently had the opportunity to connect with Willem Deyzel, the chief technology officer (CTO) at Numeral, whose diverse interests extend far beyond the confines of his professional role.