Standard Chartered Bank: Disrupting through digital and partnerships

Standard Chartered Bank dominated the Institutional Awards category at The Global Retail Banking Innovation Awards 2019 by winning Best Retail Bank of the Year in Hong Kong, Africa and Vietnam. The bank’s Singapore and Malaysia Retail Outfits were also awarded. We spoke to Aalishaan Zaidi about the bank’s winning strategy and what to expect in 2020.

Standard Chartered Malaysia bagged five impressive awards, winning ‘Best Savings Account’ and ‘Best Internet Banking Initiative’, while being Highly Acclaimed for ‘Best Customer Service Innovation’,’ Best Self-Service Banking’ and ‘Best New Product Launch’.

The bank’s Singapore retail business was also awarded with highly acclaimed accolades in ‘Debit Card of the Year’, ‘Best Mobile Banking’ and ‘Outstanding Client Onboarding & Account Opening’.

The Digital Banker interviewed Aalishaan Zaidi – Global Head, Client Experience, Channels & Digital Banking, to learn more about the bank’s success over the last year, together with its objectives for 2020.

Aalishaan Zaidi

TDB: As you reflect on 2019 to date – what stands out for you? 

AZ: 2019 has certainly been another action-packed year so far and we’ve continued to make strong progress across our regions.

Following the launch of our digital-only bank in Côte D’Ivoire last year, we have now rolled out the same model in seven more African markets (Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe), and Nigeria will go live in Q4. If we look at the Africa region with its youthful population that is increasingly digitally-savvy, combined with the proliferation of mobile phones, the benefits for our clients enabled by this mobile-powered financial revolution are clear. These new banks build on the original platform that can onboard clients in under 15 minutes and provides 70 of the most common service requests, to now also providing enhanced services including QR code and P2P payments, loan and overdraft facilities, and instant fixed deposits.

In Hong Kong, we have created a joint venture under the umbrella of SC Digital, partnering with PCCW-HKT (Hong Kong Telecom) and Ctrip (Asia’s online largest travel agency). We are working to bring banking, lifestyle, travel, telco and entertainment together all in one place under a new brand, with a new technology stack, and offering a new experience to customers in Hong Kong.

We have continued to improve the client experience for online and mobile banking in many other markets in our retail banking footprint. The real-time onboarding system, which helps clientsopen a bank account instantly, is now in India and Singapore, with more countries to follow.

We also have a bilingual chatbot in Hong Kong, named Stacy, who chats with clients in English and Cantonese. Stacy is powered by artificial intelligence and natural language processing capabilities and has contributed to a significant increase in client engagement. Our latest SC mobile app was recently released in Korea with new features such as personal finance management.

These are just a few major milestones we’re proud of and the year is not over yet!

We have a bilingual chatbot in Hong Kong, named Stacy, who chats with clients in English and Cantonese. Stacy is powered by artificial intelligence and natural language processing capabilities.

TDB: The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) recently announced it will issue up to 5 virtual bank licences. The initiative is said to bolster the retail banking sector – how much of a threat and/or opportunity is this likely to be for SC in Singapore?

AZ: We support measures which encourage the industry to innovate and digitalise. Disrupting through digital and partnerships is part of our strategy to reinforce our competitive advantage.

We subscribe to the same sentiment which Ravi Menon from the MAS expressed a couple of years back: “If we do not disrupt ourselves in a manner of our choosing, somebody else will do so in a manner we do not like”.

This is an opportunity for us to explore new business models and to provide increasingly appropriate and innovative services to new and existing customers.

We have a very strong record in digital banking and continue to invest in our digital offerings to meet the needs of our clients such as those mentioned above. In addition to our joint venture in Hong Kong, under the umbrella of SC Digital partnering with PCCW-HKT and Ctrip, we are part of a consortium which recently received a virtual banking licence in Taiwan (we have a 5% stake in Line Bank – led by Line Financial Taiwan Corp., a subsidiary of Line Taiwan Ltd., linked to the popular LINE messaging app).

We subscribe to the same sentiment which Ravi Menon from the MAS expressed a couple of years back: “If we do not disrupt ourselves in a manner of our choosing, somebody else will do so in a manner we do not like”.

TDB: What’s the bank’s approach to FinTechs and big techs? 

AZ: We believe banks and FinTechs/TechFins have mutually beneficial relationships. As a Bank, we’re always open to collaborate with FinTechs and big techs to test out new solutions to provide the most seamless banking experience for our clients. There are certain areas of emerging technology where, in the consumer banking space, we are more focused on – those include data analytics, client authentication, and conversational banking services.

SC Ventures, which is our innovation, FinTech investment and ventures unit, is an enabler to this. It aims to develop an innovation culture and mindset, deepen capabilities and experiment with new business models through an open platform and network of people and partnerships.

Disrupting through digital and partnerships is part of our strategy to reinforce our competitive advantage.

TDB: What are your top three priorities for 2020?

AZ: Looking ahead to 2020, some of the work we have started this year will continue to be top priorities. 1) Reshaping our ways of working to be more client-centric, with cross-functional enterprise agility 2) Continuing to experiment with disruptive models through fintech solutions and new platforms or partnerships; and 3) Keeping cyber safety and security top of mind as clients’ banking habits continue to shift towards digital channels.

TDB: Will SC be applying for a digital banking licence in Singapore, and if so, do you have any partners in mind?

AZ: In Singapore, while we are interested in applying for a digital banking licence, finding the right partner will be key. Our experience in Hong Kong and Taiwan will serve us well as we continue to explore the best digital model for our clients in Singapore.

 

>> To read more about this story and other exclusive features about the digital banking landscape, download the latest issue of The Digital Banker Magazine HERE.

 

Image: DavidNNP / Shutterstock.com

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