THE race in the digitalization of financial services is a constant nowadays with institutions looking at various ways to engage their customers virtually. This theme rings especially true in regions such as Asia, where people are probably happier doing their banking chores on a mobile device rather than face the threat of the coronavirus.
While the focus on collaboration remains true for many digitally focused financial firms, there is an increasing need for them to step their game up and be in the mindshare of customers given the threat of new entrants into the market. Just last year, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) announced that it had approved the licenses of eight virtual banks, with markets such as Taiwan and Singapore likewise announcing their own regulations around virtual banking.
Nimble and free from any legacy infrastructure, these virtual banks, like their incumbent counterparts, have a number of challenges ahead of them, such as not only growing their user base, but also monetizing that user base to justify the existence of their service.
Financial regulations, particularly around the process of digital onboarding for banking products, have also been a hurdle for a number of digitally focused institutions, with some markets, such as Vietnam, still requiring a wet signature to open a bank account. This is in contrast to areas such as Singapore, which allows banks to tap into the government’s MyInfo database to do E-KYC (electronic know your customer) for onboarding.
Nevertheless, there have been a few bright spots across the region when it comes to embracing efficient digital processes. In Thailand, financial regulators have been supportive of banks using new types of technology such as blockchain to solve inefficiencies around cross-border payments and supply chain financing. The Philippines, likewise, has been turning to financial technology to solve old age problems such as financial inclusion by making it easier for underdeveloped communities to access basic banking services.
Ultimately, when it comes to being a leading digitally focused financial firm, understanding the customer experience is important to distinguishing your service against the industry. While the advances in data analytics have made it easier for firms to push more relevant financial services to their customers, education is nonetheless still key to ensuring customers take full advantage of digital services being offered to them.
Despite all these issues and challenges, several leading financial firms in Asia were leaders when it came to effectively deploying technology within their respective businesses.
As part of The Asset’s continuing coverage of developments in Asia’s financial industry the board of editors is pleased to present the winners of The Asset Triple A Digital Awards 2020, recognizing the firms that have been steadfast in leveraging technology not only to serve clients via their frontend systems, but also supporting risk management and cybersecurity functions at the backend.
Taking the crown as the Digital Bank of the Year, Asia-Pacific was Citi which defended its title against increased competition from several institutions. The bank over the past review period has been proactive in engaging with people via their digital channels with a particular focus on their mobile proposition. Citi also boasts increased acquisition of customers through electronic channels highlighting the seamless nature of their processes. Going forward, the bank plans to increasingly work with its partners in the region to fit into the lifestyles of their target customers.
Regional and local banks in Asia have also been confidently pushing forward in their own digital journey, with the likes of DBS being a shining example for Asian banks looking to move into the next level of digitalization. Over the review period, the Singapore-based bank has consolidated its market leading position in Singapore and has looked to export technology from its home base to other key markets in the region. For instance, in Indonesia, using its data analytics expertise, the bank was able to provide customers with a loan approval in just 60 seconds compared to the usual 5-7 days turnaround time. DBS is Digital Bank of the Year, Singapore.
Other banks, such as UnionBank in the Philippines, have aimed to shift the organization mindset within the bank to support digital solutions for basic banking activities. Like its counterparts in the region, Unionbank has looked at technologies such as blockchain to better streamline its backend processes. The bank also has a fintech (financial technology) arm, UBX, which has been instrumental in not only helping the bank itself, but also the overall ecosystem. The UBX created i2i platform, for example, has provided rural banks in the Philippines with real-time payment network enhancing transparency between often forgotten institutions. UnionBank is Digital Bank of the Year, Philippines.
In addition to incumbent institutions, this round of digital awards also recognizes the efforts of several fintech companies looking to address inefficiencies from wealth management to lending. A number of digital projects have been cited across the region as well, praising the efforts of firms in fortifying their backend systems or making the banking experience more enjoyable for the customer.
To see the full list of winning fintechs and institutions of the Triple A Digital Awards 2020 please click here.
To view the best digital procedures and initiatives across the region please click here.
For the list of the best digital projects please click here.