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FinTech in Asia: Taking Transformation by the Horns

We dive into customer-centric innovation via technology transformation with Sonia Wedrychowicz, Managing Director, Head of Singapore CBG Technology. She will be discussing this is more depth at Asia's landmark risk management event for banks, insurers and asset managers, taking place 9-11 October 2017.

How can technology transformations ramp up customer-centric innovation?

Technology these days is driving our customers' experience by ensuring simplicity, speed and convenience in daily interactions. The innovative solutions are always implemented having in mind the customer view, as we call it - an "outside- in" view. Technology can only be effective in ramping up the customer experience when it is used in conjunction with reimagining the customer journeys and eliminating all the pain- points that customers experience with the current solutions. There is a big difference between "digitising" and "digitalising" the customer experience. In the first case it is a reactive activity of making the current analog experience digital, without really redesigning it and enhancing it using technology. An example of digitization is transforming a paper statement into a PDF file without really changing anything. You can, however, digitalise the customer statement by making it interactive on the mobile application or through an internet banking. This can be achieved by providing automated categorization of transactions (i.e. show how much we spend on food or petrol), enabling to set up budgets for spending or setting up goals for savings.

Sonia Wedrychowicz   RiskMinds Asia Speaker `

What are the key technology transformations?

In my opinion, the key technology transformations these days are related to Artificial Intelligence, Biometric Authentication of customers and authorizations of their transactions and Cyber Security. The chat bots powered by Artificial Intelligence will take over a lot of what we call today as "service plus" activities, such as customer requests for blocking and reissuing the credit cards etc., as well as will drive online selling processes.

Biometric customer authentication and transaction authorization will lead to vastly simplifying the account opening process and will make it 100 per cent remote and digital. This move will revolutionize the customer onboarding and make the visit to the branch redundant. At the same time, it should lead to the elimination of signatures as customer biometric verification will make it so much more powerful and secure.

Cyber security is viewed by many as the necessary foundation of technology -led transformation and I fully agree with that view. Simplicity should never jeopardize security and therefore the challenges standing ahead of making the customer experience secure are immense. Technology, however, is also driving that by providing multiple points of security that engage not only the core technical solutions, but also involves the customers in monitoring their accounts e.g. by providing them with a wide span of different alerts and notifications.

How has DBS Bank implemented these transformations with success?

DBS was a pioneer in the banking industry by implementing many of the solutions mentioned before into our internet and mobile applications. Examples include: the biometric authentication of digibank by DBS customers in India and Indonesia, our Virtual Assistant, which is an AI chat bot servicing customers in India and Indonesia. That Virtual Assistant was recently also implemented on Facebook messenger in Singapore. We also integrated two more FinTech companies' solutions to reimagine the transaction authorizations using soft tokens and the transaction search and categorization, mentioned by me before. Each of our new projects starts with defining so called customers' "jobs to be done" i.e. understanding what our customers really want to achieve and then designing the customer journeys around it, always using technology solutions.

What are the key challenges that DBS Bank has encountered with these transformations?

The biggest challenge with any transformation is always related to people. It requires a vast change of the the company culture and can only be achieved by engaging employees at every level - from the top and the bottom. In my personal opinion no real transformation can ever be achieved if it does not have a strong buy in and drive from the top management. We were lucky to have a CEO, who was personally dedicated to make the change into digital happen and so was the whole management team under him. Thanks to that support, the transformation happened across the organization and included not only business, operations or technology but it was equally big in the support units like legal, compliance or HR.

How is the Asian FinTech landscape paving the way for innovation in Financial Services?

I believe that Asia is playing an especially important role in the technology transformation - mostly driven by the Chinese giants - like Alibaba with Alipay, WeChat or Ping An. At the same time, Asia is home to a myriad of different  Fintech startup companies that provide innovative solutions for the financial institutions to integrate with. Asian regulators are also very supportive in promoting their innovation that is API - enabled and is allowing the startup Fintech companies to smoothly plug into banking and other financial institutions, thus setting the pathway for Open Banking in Asia.


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