Interview with BLS International Services Ltd

Interview with BLS International Services Ltd

by 5paisa Research Team Last Updated: Dec 12, 2022 - 12:51 am 40.9k Views
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In conversation with Shikhar Aggarwal, Joint Managing Director, BLS International Services Ltd.

Could you shed some light on your asset-light business model? How are you leveraging technology and automation of processes to streamline costs?

BLS International is a trusted global tech-enabled services partner for governments and citizens. Our business is diversified into visa and passport services, consular services, e-visa services and front-end and citizen services to the governments in India and globally. It's globally diversified wherein we serve over 46+ client governments spread across 66 countries. We have also established a robust network of banking points to deliver banking services to the unserved and underserved rural and remote population of India by bringing last-mile connectivity and financial inclusion. With this, we have successfully reduced the impact of the pandemic on our business to a larger extent. 

Our asset-light model and continuous efforts to streamline costs aligned to the level of operations helped us to stay strong during this pandemic. We managed to limit the decline by continuous focus on cost rationalization and realigning expenses in line with the current level of business operations wherein our employee costs were reduced significantly.

To sum it up, despite the challenges and a not so stable global economy owing to the pandemic, we have been able to maintain healthy financial performance.

There is tremendous acceptance and implementation of technologies like AI in the visa domain. BLS has adopted AI-backed application processing which makes the process easier, faster and effective. BLS uses interactive methods to provide the current status of the travel document that is being processed to the traveller instantly. With our conversational app, we have consistently reduced the amount of interaction required factoring intent and context into the conversation.

For example, just a text to a chatbot saying, “current status of the application number xxxx1234”, accomplishes the task and shows the status of the application to the traveller instantly. Bots using Natural Language Processing (NLP) are deployed to accomplish more complex personalization using AI.

Travel Documents like passports and e-residency cards recognition are being used to recognize a blocked or blacklisted traveller as part of security clearance. BLS uses the feedback mechanism to capture the user experience and enhance it further. We capture the mood or sentiment of the traveller, based on analytics and AI built into the system, for continuous improvement in customer delight hence, delivering better and efficient service.

We have been serving multiple Governments/Embassies such as India, Brazil, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Philippines, USA, Canada, Estonia, Lebanon, Portugal, Vietnam, Morocco, Belarus, France, UAE, Thailand, etc. for visa outsourcing and consular services. We take pride in optimizing the entire system into a seamless progression including automation of processes, application submission, appointments, helplines, collection and remittance of fees on the applicant’s behalf, biometric enrolment and a host of value-added services for the applicant’s convenience.

What is your take on revenge tourism and staycations? Will these trends be a flash in the pan or are they here to stay for the long haul?

‘Revenge Tourism’ and ‘Staycations’ are here to stay until the situation becomes normal again. A new wave of innovation is set to change the industry dynamics while ensuring a seamless experience for travellers. With AI and ML, computers have evolved to recognize speech patterns and voice command is slowly taking the center stage. The foray of AI technology in the tourism sector would allow guests to easily adjust various room features, including heating, air-conditioning, lighting, and so forth. Voice control will eventually help the travel industry overcome language barriers too and facilitate ease of communication. By offering services in multiple languages, voice technology will eventually encourage more people to travel extensively.

And in our business lately, we have experienced that safety is the utmost priority; travellers are shelling out extra money for ease of access, premium/priority services or home/mobile services. Travel bubbles, vaccine passports, low-touch travel are some of the new norms that are looked upon by the industry.

What are your growth levers?

Our seamless progression including automation of processes, application submission, appointments, helplines, collection and remittance of fees on the applicant’s behalf, biometric enrolment and a host of value-added services for the applicant’s convenience have helped us to move ahead in our overall business.

While some of our growth levers are:

  • Domestic and global opportunities in outsourcing of citizen services like Punjab and UP projects which would enable us to grow our citizen services business to other states and countries globally.

  • More governments to outsource consular, citizen, visa and identity management services which are a moat for our global business.

  • Through strategic organic & inorganic growth.


What are your top 3 strategic priorities?

Our focus is to build robust tech-enabled processes with efficient execution and investments in technologies to utilize exciting possibilities related to digitization, last-mile penetration and enhanced service experience. We continue to leverage competence and deepen presence with our existing client base by offering greater services, thereby increasing wallet share in the front-end and citizen, visa, consular, e-governance, attestation, biometric and e-visa vicinity.

Our top key objectives are:

• To focus on diversification towards tech-enabled e-governance services in the global as well as domestic market. 

• Establish a dominant global presence at the back of our core tech strengths, to access international markets and target missions that are already outsourcing the services. 

• To strengthen our relations with the existing customer base that will eventually help us to get more contracts in the vicinity of e-governance, visas, consular, e-visas, retail, etc.

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