2013: The biggest financial technology trends in Asia


The growth of mobile continued to dominate the financial services industry in 2013, while big data and analytics emerged as important avenues to improve customer engagement.

As banks try to remain customer centric in the Asian market, many are at different stages such as servicing the underbanked or developing high-end NFC technology, the one thing they all have in common is that technology will be the way to get there.

“The holy grail is to take the inherent intellectual capital of banking and invest in our customers…. Big data, intelligence and connectivity are helping unlock that potential,” according to  Steve Monaghan, Chief Innovation Officer at DBS.

Mature markets saw the rise of big data this year, but financial institutions were faced with the challenge of creating systems internally to take advantage of this data.

“Data will become what business is all about – companies will increasingly need to integrate information from multiple data sources, including third parties, and the trick then will be to derive useful and actionable results from all the analysis. And to do this in real time,” said Mike McCarthy, Head of global Infrastructure services, Asia Pacific, at RBS.

Data has also provided a way forward for marketing products to individual customers and tailor their experience.
 “If we continue to talk to our customers in the traditional way – as a one-size-fits-all solution and in very broad segments – we will not get their attention,” said Pranav Seth, head of e-Business and Banking Transformation at OCBC, “there is an opportunity to personalise every interaction the bank has with customers to make it more relevant to them.”

Developing markets are still seeing the growing expansion of mobile, with Peer-to-Peer and NFC technology giving rise to the mobile wallet. Smartphone-based banking, as well as opening up of alternate communication channels to customers such as the ability to send funds through an sms.

“Banks must begin to engage with customers within the customer’s comfort zone… to stay competitive and relevant, a bank’s channel strategy must be reshaped in today’s fast-changing landscape,” said Chee Kong Wong, Chief Operating Officer and head of Technology at Hong Leong Bank.

Banks have also begun to transform the physical branch, launching many self-service kiosks across Asia, in an effort to reach rural areas and the unbanked market, according to Kanchan Nijasure, Chief Information Officer at Bank Danamon, “Bank Danamon launched its first mobile branch consisting of one teller, one customer service person, one ATM and one internet banking terminal… we have found it to be very useful during exhibitions and for supporting customers in remote locations.”

The growth of mobile continues to power on at a rapid rate, with banks taking advantage of the cheap availability of smartphones, and the easy access tech-savvy Gen Y customers have to these devices.

“The smartphone/tablet is opening up enormous possibility for innovation… this opens up whole new possibilities to integrate banking services and products into the customer lifestyle,” said Iswaraan Suppiah, Head of Group Information and Operations, CIMB Group.