How ASEAN Financial Institutions can Accelerate their Digitalisation Efforts – A Personal Reflection

The writer is the Senior Vice President, Systems, EMEA & JAPAC of Oracle, Chung Heng Han.

Last week, I participated in a CxO Roundtable hosted by Asia IoT Business Platform, focusing on ASEAN Banks’ Digital Initiatives. It was an online session which aggregated a focus group of ASEAN stakeholders from some of the premier financial institutions in the region. The common themes that strongly resonated across the whole discussion were related to Customer Experience in a fast evolving digitised environment, Security in this new era and how we can better manage data sprawl.

The unpredictable nature of the Lockdown measures had undesirable consequences on the overall economy. The Lockdowns/Movement Control Orders coupled with social distancing measures within ASEAN are accelerating consumers’ adoption of digital banking services. As consumers turn to digital transactions, the roundtable participants shared their first hand insights on the various digital initiatives related to enhancing Customer Experience in this new era.

This session reinforced the fact that this epidemic has become a digital banking ‘reality check’ for all financial institutions. Since the start of the epidemic, consumer demand for digital banking has never been greater. Organisations that took the bold step forward on “digital transformation” efforts were able to swiftly adapt to the fast evolving needs of their customers . Unfortunately, many organisations that were delaying their digital transformation efforts have been caught flat-footed and are finding themselves struggling to deliver a positive digital experience.

Although the three panellists in the session had employed differing implementation methods for their digital initiatives, all pivoted on enriching Customer Experience. VPBank from Vietnam articulated that their ‘Digital Strategy’ covered digitising existing operations to launch their new digital bank. Krungsri Consumer ( A subsidiary of Bank of Ayudhya ) from Thailand covered aspects of customer profiling and how they use AI/ML and spatial data to have successful targeted marketing campaign for their credit card customers. Finally, RCBC from the Philippines demonstrated how their digital banking initiative provided a viable alternative for delivering a rich digital banking experience during this lockdown period.

From my perspective, these trying times have bifurcated the financial services segment, i.e. the ones that customers can use without leaving home and those where it has quickly become impractical to use the services in our new digitised reality. Digital Transformation in banking is no longer a “nice to have” imperative but rather, it represents an existential threat. I am witnessing many banks now realising the need to accelerate the notion of representing a single consumer across the entire bank, to give a richer customer experience.

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Chung Heng Han

20 May 2020

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