In Focus
FINANCIAL SERVICES | Frances Gagua, Hong Kong
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Amidst a crisis, Mox Bank sees boundless opportunities

The neobank has outlined a bold plan to kickstart a new generation of virtual-savvy customers.

The current crisis may have upended operations of Hong Kong’s banking industry, but for Hong Kong virtual-only lender Mox Bank, it is a time rife with opportunity

“We saw that as a result of COVID-19 outbreak, that more and more people are living their lives virtually or online—whether it's online shopping, for work, study or entertainment,” Deniz Güven, CEO of Mox Bank, told Asian Banking & Finance and Hong Kong Business in an exclusive interview.

“We believe the pandemic has made many more consumers in Hong Kong to adopt and be comfortable in living their lives virtually, whether it's shopping, dining, learning,” he later added.

The plethora of prospects that the new normal has opened for digital financial offerors aligns with Mox Bank’s proposition, whose name reflects the endless opportunities it plans to create with its customers—which the lender cheekily refers to as “Generation Mox.” Unlike other virtual banking propositions in APAC, Mox does not only target a single generation or segment, but intends to focus on providing personalised banking services for each individual customer’s life stages.

“Our research spoke of wanting savings and spending advice, based on their life stages, not how much they already have. They want advice to help them track and achieve their life goals. They want even better security and fraud monitoring in these times of e-commerce. They want more services and rewards out of their banks, and this is what we will initially focus on,” said Güven. He also revealed that prior to its beta launch, the bank—whose parent company is the British multinational finance giant Standard Chartered, in partnership with PCCW, HKT, and Trip.com—conducted surveys with over 2,000 people to learn more what they desire from the neobank.

Mox’s first project is launching Asia’s first all-in-one numberless bank card in partnership with Mastercard—a physical card for spending and ATM cash withdrawals and without any printed card numbers, expiry date, or card verifications. Instead, these could be accessed from the Mox banking app.

Asian Banking & Finance had a chat with CEO Güven to learn more about Mox Bank’s entrance in Hong Kong’s banking industry as well as its vision of growth for the bank in the coming years.

What was the idea behind the name "Mox"? How does the name of your bank represent how you want to position yourself in the banking industry?
Many folks have asked how we came about with our name and logo. Well, it was actually quite a simple journey. We researched, asked potential customers, we went through more than 2,000 naming suggestions, before we found the one we all like—Mox.

Mox can mean many things. It reflects the endless opportunities we can create—Mobile eXperience; Money eXperience; Money X (multiplier), eXponential growth, eXploration. It’s all up for us to define, together. As for our logo and our visual design, they are inspired by the round shape of a Hong Kong dollar coin, which is also a nod to our roots. We take pride in being one of Hong Kong’s newest virtual banks, complementing Standard Chartered’s heritage of being Hong Kong’s oldest note-issuing bank with over 160 years of experience in serving the community.

What are your thoughts in being one of Hong Kong's newest virtual-only banks? What is your outlook for the local virtual banking industry?
We are excited about the opportunities ahead. Despite the many retail banks available in Hong Kong, with the many online banking services available to consumers, we believe there are still gaps in banking services that people need today. There is an underserved customer base in Hong Kong.

We’ve been listening to what customers want, and we’ve been researching on what’s missing in banking. We spoke with over 2,000 people and they all tell us they want new and better experiences. They spoke of wanting savings or spending advice, based on their life stages, not how much they have. They want advice to help them track and achieve their life goals. And we saw that as a result of COVID-19 outbreak, that more and more people are living their lives virtually or online—whether its online shopping, for work, study or entertainment.

What’s important to note is that Mox is connecting banking into people’s everyday lives and shaping a new model that just might reflect the future of banking. Banking has to be simple, intuitive and even delightful, to consumers.

What is Mox Bank's charm point? How do you plan to establish your foothold in the industry amidst competition from other lenders?
We are in the business of trust and we take pride in being a subsidiary of Standard Chartered Bank and its heritage of over 160 years in serving the community. Our differentiator from other VBs is our customer experience and the partners we have, bringing new ways of rewards and spending. You need partners to build an ecosystem and diversify distribution channels, particularly for the service-led bank that Mox is conceived to be. We wanted Mox to become integral to people’s daily lives, so working with partners that had already achieved this, to create joint service offerings, was key to our value proposition.

Tell us more about your offerings. Who is your target customer base? What services does Mox Bank offer, or plan to?
Mox is simply a smarter, easier, delightful way to bank. Everything we do is based on extensive research to identify what truly matters to you and to solve real pain points. We will deliver a suite of retail financial services as well as lifestyle benefits all in one place, with the focus of providing financial well-being to our customers.

We are reaching out to the Generation Mox in Hong Kong. They’re a tribe of creative, curious and connected people, who want to do more, feel more, see more. They’re digitally savvy, regardless of age. They want to grow, individually, financially, as a community and a society.

For starters, we’re bringing to Hong Kong a whole new experience for savings and spending. We want to get customers to form good savings habits, and we will help them automate this. Customers can set up specific savings goals and be in a better position to track their progress, and focus on achieving them one by one. Savings Calculator and other tools help customers to automate saving habits. Customers will earn daily interest.

We believe this is the most important service for HK people. They cannot find the best saving product out there.

Mox launched Asia's all-in-one numberless bank card. What are the advantages of such an offering? How does it ensure the protection of your peoples' money?
When you open an account with Mox, you’ll receive a virtual Mox card, with which you can start banking immediately.

But there’ll be instances that you need a physical bank card, such as spending and ATM cash withdrawals. We partnered with Mastercard in coming up with our Mox Card, re-defining innovation, security and privacy. Our numberless bank card has no card numbers, expiry dates or card verification value (“CVV”). This helps reduce your risk of losing personal information, making it one less thing to worry about.'

All card information can be securely accessed in the Mox app. And if you ever lose the card, simply and instantly freeze it in the app. Users can enjoy ATM services at over 2,000 Jetco ATMs in Hong Kong, and all ATMs globally that accept Mastercard cards.

If possible, can you share with us your future projects and plans you have in store in the coming year?
Virtual banks will drive Hong Kong’s banking industry to be more competitive, diversified and resilient. Virtual banking will also promote Hong Kong’s financial inclusion and enable customers to enjoy more innovative, convenient, and quality banking services.

We will start by offering a unique experience in savings and spending, and over time will introduce other services as well.

We aim to introduce some market firsts to Hong Kong consumers. Together with Mastercard, Mox is the first bank in Asia to launch an all-in-one numberless bank card—a physical card for both spending and ATM cash withdrawals without any printed card numbers, expiry dates or card verification value (CVV). This helps reduce customers’ risk of losing personal information, making it one less thing to worry about. All card information can be securely accessed in the Mox app. And if our customers ever lose the card, simply and instantly freeze it in the app.

Can you give us an estimate of when you believe you will start making a profit?
Our preliminary goal is on winning “heart share”, rather than market share. If we make ourselves more relevant to customers’ daily lives, the business would simply follow.

How has Mox Bank been received by the public so far?
In early May, we started to invite Hong Kong people to sign up on our website and get early access to our services. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the applicants for their tremendous support of Mox. This is very successful, as we have had a very large number of registrations. We look forward to creating Mox with them.

We are very happy with our progress so far, and we’re excited that the launch is gathering pace. We’re proud to say that the team has continued to build the bank, with a work-from-home model.  I have to hand it to my team here—their perseverance, passion and commitment to the cause. Despite being of different cultures, different experience sets, they hunkered down and didn’t let the pandemic affect target deadlines.

We also have to thank HKMA, with whom we worked closely during the sandbox development. They want all of the licensees to succeed.
 

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