Growth with technology
Transaction banker of the year, China Jianping Ji
“Over the past few years, commercial banks have been facing huge challenges due to intensified competition. At the same time, internet companies are also eating financial institutions’ lunch,” says Ji.
But this has not deterred him from spotting opportunities. “We have good cards to play that internet companies do not have. We can provide specialized and deepened financial services,” says Ji. “No matter how the world changes, impressing the customer is always key.”
In 2017, China Merchants Bank launched a new corporate banking system U-Bank X that integrates artificial intelligence with big data and blockchain capabilities. This has repositioned the bank as a strong platform for business. Moreover, China Merchants’ cash management system, Cross Banking System (CBS), enabled clients to centralize treasury activities including payment and real-time balance checking without plugging in various banking tokens.
The growth of China Merchants’ transaction banking business has been impressive. The success was attributable to the bank’s agility and strong technological capabilities. Since China Merchants set up its transaction banking department in 2015, it has worked closely with many of the technology leaders in China such as Alibaba and Didi. As a result, the bank was able to employ the best people in the industry.
“Transaction banks need talent with the ability to learn quickly and adapt to a fast-changing world,” says Ji. “The increasing needs for customization, a variety of services, and the ability to implement complex solutions leads to higher requirements for commercial banks to learn about the market and identify customer needs.”
In the past, banks in China enjoyed large retail deposits at a low cost. But Ji believes that Chinese commercial banks should abandon this old business mindset. “Some senior executives at commercial banks still rely on the traditional profit model driven by net interest margin. They overlook innovation in technology and new business models.”
Adhering to the principle of making technology a foundation for success, China Merchants looks forward to achieving another milestone in the corporate banking space. Ji tells The Asset that the bank is preparing the launch of its corporate mobile banking app this year. This is another tool that will keep clients happy and hopefully fend off competition.
“Facing competition from fintechs, I am stressed but excited; meticulous yet confident,” says Ji.