An Interview with Galvin Yeo


Hong Leong Bank’s General Manager of Digital Innovation and Transactional Banking speaks to FST Media about how contactless payments will be a game-changer in the banking industry.

FST Media: What are your innovation investment priorities for the next 12 to 18 months?

Yeo: We will be focussing on mobile solutions and new online applications that do not need physical interactions. Another priority is to focus on the integration between our mobile solutions and our existing branch networks by using mobile to make the customer experience at branches more pleasing.

FST Media: What technology or innovation will be a game-changer in the banking industry in the year ahead?

Yeo: We believe that contactless payments will be a game-changer, given that both Apple and Android have commercially-available solutions now. The use of small apps on mobile and tablet – allowing internal process improvements within the bank from sales processes to mobile sales force enablement – will be another area that will transform the way we do business and deliver an excellent customer experience.

FST Media: What strategies will Hong Leong Bank use to interact with its increasing mobile customer base?

Yeo: We have already started that journey by releasing a new mobile phone and iPad tablet app. Our mobile phone app is available on all major platforms, while the tablet app is available on iOS. Development of multiple apps for different customer needs will also allow the bank to further increase interactions with its growing mobile customer base.

FST Media: What is your strategy to deliver a seamless experience across all social and digital platforms?

Yeo: We have launched the bank’s presence on LinkedIn and more recently on Facebook. There are also plans to develop digital capabilities for specific segments of our customer base and their specific needs. For example, we are looking at engaging our customers for services that are relevant when they are utilising social media to interact with their friends.

We have also deployed a centralised team to engage with our customers on social media platforms, live and video chat platforms as well as other digital platforms to ensure a consistent customer experience.

FST Media: How has the enhancement of Hong Leong Connect delivered value to the business and what’s next in this space?

Yeo: We have seen a significant growth in non-financial transactions across our digital channels, as a percentage of the entire bank’s non-financial transactions.
We have also seen increased signups to both internet and mobile platforms, as a result of easier registration processes and navigation.

We are now moving to newer branch formats that rely more on digital platforms for transactional banking and allow more concentration on sales. This has also further reduced the cost of setting up our branches.

FST Media: How will the implementation of ‘PEx’ payment technology deliver value to the business and customers?

Yeo: PEx is a cashless payment technology that replaces actual cash expenditure. It provides convenience to our customers and is a service that our customers want to have as part of their daily payment needs. 

The aim is that this service will make customers transact more using the bank’s services and ultimately make their account at HLB their main operating account, which ultimately will lead to more deposit balances with the bank. 

FST Media: How has your Cardless Withdrawal Service been received by customers and what is next for contactless banking?

Yeo: Cardless withdrawal has been positively received by our customers. It is the first service in Malaysia which utilises only the mobile phone and ATM to perform an ATM cash withdrawal. We have seen a steady growth in the number of transactions.

Next for contactless banking is to give our customers a new way to pay and interact with merchants.

FST Media: What is your most effective customer acquisition channel and why?

Yeo: Currently, branches are still the most effective customer acquisition channel, as there are certain regulatory requirements that require customers to be physically present at branches if they want immediate account opening or the collection of debit cards. 

FST Media: How do you encourage a culture of innovation in your team?

Yeo: Our structure provides a framework within which all team members have access to senior staff to share new ideas or improvements.

We have a structure that encourages all team members to have access to a lot of information and they are also encouraged to approach their leaders to discuss ideas that they may have to further improve processes or platforms. 

They are also encouraged to attend functions that provide them with an opportunity to network and learn from the industry leaders, not only in banking but also in other industries that are fast adopters of digital technologies.

FST Media: What are your thoughts on the evolving nature of the CIO role in banking and to what extent has technology shaped their career trajectory?

Yeo: CIOs are no longer just taking care of service availability and technology architecture. They need to be in sync with the ever-changing banking landscape and need to be ahead of the curve when adopting new technologies in financial services. Gone are the days when a CIO looks at investing in a large system with the intention of keeping the system for at least five years. Now, many of the systems that are installed in the overall ecosystem are much smaller and have much shorter life spans. 

FST Media: What is the greatest career advice you have ever received?

Yeo: The greatest advice I have ever received is with regards to the significance of disruption: evolve or be irrelevant.

FST Media: Every leader has a legacy they wish to be remembered for, what is yours?

Yeo: The legacy I wish to be remembered for is for helping Hong Leong Bank establish a culture of growth and innovation where no idea is too small or is out of reach.