The past years have been challenging for Hong Kong’s retail banks. Factors such as heightened competition, regulatory attempts and global regulations, and rapid salary and infrastructure cost increases have been identified as concerns.
When it comes to consumers, particularly, they have been empowered with improved mobility and access to information.They are now demanding further improvements in banking services, which has been seen as a concern for retail banks.
For Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited (“Standard Chartered Hong Kong”), however, consumers’ increasing expectations from retail banks isn’t a cause for concern. Focusing on their consumers has led them to come out with new products and services that are of value, highlighting the bank’s pride in its innovative approaches.
“In retail we are known for bringing products and solutions for our clients that are innovative and of tremendous value. We also focus on client experience and make that a differentiator,” says Samir Subberwal, Managing Director & Head, Retail Banking, Standard Chartered Hong Kong.
Achieving wins despite headwinds
Samir says it’s been a challenging year with an uncertain global outlook, a slowing local economy, and slower corporate activities. “We feel that going forward, the global political uncertainty is one of the biggest risks,” he says. “We have already seen that with Brexit and the U.S.presidential elections, and could potentially see that inthe rest of Europe.”
He also notes that Brexit raises concerns for the EU, and there are increasing risks of protectionism and trade barriers that could impact international trade, GDP, and wealth creation in emerging markets. Further, Samir shares that the diverging monetary policy of the U.S. and the rest of the world is creating an uncertain environment for investments. “Despite the headwinds, with our focus on our clients, Standard Chartered has achieved good results and further built on our strong franchise in Hong Kong,” he says.
Equipped for digitisation
This is because Standard Chartered strives to be the world’s best bank for our chosen client segments, according to Samir. “We bank the people and companies driving investment, trade, and wealth creation across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East,” he says. In retail banking, for instance, Standard Chartered manifests its position as a leading bank through its efforts regarding digitisation, which Samir notes is the leading trend shaping the retail banking sector.
In 2013, for instance, in response to changes in its clients’ lifestyles, and with the aim of continuing to offer state-of-the-art banking experiences, Standard Chartered Hong Kong expanded and renovated its 4-4A Des Voeux Road Branch, transforming it into the bank’s first digital branch in Hong Kong. This was followed by the first Digital Tellers in HK in the Exchange Square branch.
Standard Chartered is leading the way in digital banking, with Global Finance awarding it as the Best Consumer Digital Bank in Hong Kong in 2015 and 2016. It is one of the most renowned digital bank awards worldwide.
“Standard Chartered Hong Kong also rolled out the Touch Login service, a biometric technology for clients to securely access all the banking services available in Standard Chartered Mobile app, including checking their bank account balances and cards transactions, transferring funds, and making bill payments using their unique fingerprint as authentication,” says Samir.
Further, Standard Chartered Hong Kong is the only bank that jointly launched the P2P payment platform powered by Octopus, making it easy for our clients to apply and transfer money to Octopus O! ePay account via Online Banking. “With Octopus O! ePay, clients can enjoy spending and receiving money among friends and top up their Octopus with their mobile phone anytime,” he notes. Standard Chartered Hong Kong also introduced its clients to Apple Pay and Android Pay, transforming mobile payments with an intuitive and secure way to pay conveniently.
The bank has also signaled its ongoing commitment to encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship by sponsoring the SuperCharger FinTech Accelerator Programme, with the aim of helping local and international early-stage and more established FinTech companies grow in Asia’s vibrant markets.
Samir says Standard Chartered will continue to acquire new-to-bank clients through alliances and internal ecosystems, pursue its digital main bank strategy, and leverage the opportunities coming from RMB internationalisation and the Belt and Road initiative.
“Our success is a result of being obsessed with the basics of banking — balancing the pursuit of growth with a disciplined management of costs and risks,while keeping a firm grip on liquidity and capital,” he notes. Through the bank’s international network and expertise, it enables multinational clients to conduct complex business transactions and services the needs of an increasingly international consumer base. “Our brand promise is here for good,which is the essence of who we are. It’s about being there for our clients through good times and bad, and always trying to do the right thing,” he says.
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