Q&A Interview with Nauman Bashir & Olivier Berthier
We sat down with Nauman Bashir, Managing Director, Head of Digital Banking Singapore at Standard Chartered Bank and Olivier Berthier, CEO and co-founder of Moneythor to get their views on the state of digital banking in Singapore and what to expect in the future?
- How has COVID-19 impacted digital banking?
- How has Standard Chartered Bank adapted to the changing needs of digitally focused customers?
- What is the biggest challenge banks face in their move towards digital banking?
- How can partnerships with Fintechs support banks in their adoption of digital banking?
Banks and Financial institutions (FI) have had to adapt to new ways of working given the restrictions that come with social distancing and working from home. In many ways, this has significantly accelerated digital transformation. FIs have had to quickly digitise their workforces while maintaining the services offered to customers. This has been especially challenging in spaces like financial advisory & wealth management where a brick-and-mortar setup is still largely the norm.
Likewise, for our clients, the pandemic has driven unprecedented changes in behaviour, driving rapid adoption of digital services such as digital and contactless payments and channels such as Online and Mobile Banking applications. Digital has become a mainstream way of banking for most of our clients and we expect a big lift in digital transactions, investments and payments. What would have taken an organic shift in behaviour possibly years to do, we have achieved in months.
As Nauman mentioned, the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated digital transformation in banking. For lack of other options, customers have had no choice but to adopt digital tools and services and banks have had to find quick ways to deliver them.
While the rapid development of digital banking services has not been easy for some institutions, it has given all of them an opportunity to focus on developing their online services and improving the customer experience.
The impacts of COVID-19 on digital banking will not be temporary and we can expect a permanent change in preference and behaviour as customers discover the benefits of managing their finances online. Post-pandemic, there is most likely no going back for financial institutions focusing their attention primarily on building customer-centric digital banking solutions.
Setting the right foundation by putting in place a comprehensive digital ecosystem has paid off. Over the last year, the Bank started delivering on its digital agenda not just to future-proof its businesses, especially during crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, but also to make digital banking safer, faster and more intuitive for clients.
Our strategic investments over the years in the digital space have bolstered our readiness to serve our customers, not just in terms of the digital assets that we have at our disposal but also the mindset of our employees who are equally prepared to adapt and serve the changing needs of our clients in the “new normal”.
We have invested into improving our digital banking and investment platforms with capabilities such as instant issuance of credit cards, personal loans and account opening, online remittance service with zero transfer charges and FX costs, a one-stop platform for real-time FX conversions, and the availability of all service requests on our digital platforms. Clients can basically self-bank anytime, anywhere, on the SC Mobile app.
The pandemic has triggered an uptick in digital payments and mobile banking and with that customer expectations have shifted. While customers are happy to manage their finances through online channels, they have increasingly high digital expectations around the level of personalisation and support they should receive from their bank.
Standard Chartered Bank has been very quick to embrace the idea that personalisation and advice online is crucial for customers to manage their finances effectively. Having this understanding has allowed the Bank to deliver world-class customer experiences and support through their SC Mobile app in 2020.
And crucially, the Bank now has a strong and differentiated foundation in place to offer even more engaging, actionable and customer-centric features in the coming months and beyond.
As with any new changes, the challenge is the inertia and ignorance to cross over to the “Digital Promised Land”, coupled with old habits and behaviours. However, COVID-19 has forced both consumer and organisations to realise that that with the right organisational support, incumbents can still move at a pace more typical to challenger banks or Fintechs. Moreover, if clients’ experiences with digital banking are positive, they are unlikely to go back to the older options. The challenge then, is for us to create delightful, fuss-free, and safe experiences for consumers so that a habit of digital banking will be formed.
While circumstances have spurred changing consumer behaviours, the human touch in banking is still paramount, and our digital platforms, designed to provide as human an experience as possible, have eased clients’ transition towards banking online.
In my opinion, one of the biggest challenges banks face in their move towards digital banking is how they organise and manage customer data. Financial institutions have access to a great amount of data but despite this, many organisations are not able to use this effectively. Often they run into problems when they try to use the data available and find they have not been capturing the right data or the process for data organisation is not sufficient for developing insightful analysis.
Shifting to being a data-first company is not easy and for many banks more work is required to improve the quality and timeliness of data collected and to map out data requirements in advance. However, once this work is completed banks are well positioned to create advanced digital banking experiences.
Building a strong digital ecosystem through collaborations with esteemed partners will play a big role in pushing the future of cashless payments, investments and transactions to our clients to ensure a more seamless digital banking and payments experience.
Most Fintech companies have the advantage of being free of legacy technology systems and in many cases regulation, and so can work in a more agile and flexible manner. By partnering with Fintechs, banks can deliver a greater number of customer-focused products and services at an accelerated pace, while leveraging a broader skillset and often expertise beyond just financial products such as lifestyle components.