Going digital irresistible trend in banking sector

Updated: 2016-10-05 07:22

(HK Edition)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Digital transformation has led to the shedding of 7,000 jobs in Europe, or about 12 percent of total employment, at Dutch bank ING.

The bank's chief executive Ralph Hamers told the BBC that customers have become increasingly digital. To meet clients' expectations, the bank plans to invest 800 million euros ($894 million) over the next five years to build a "scalable platform" to help improve "customer experience and a quicker delivery of new products", Hamers said.

In so doing, ING has shown what banking customers worldwide can expect from the usually staid financial institutions that are increasingly feeling the competitive pinch from the burgeoning ranks of fintech.

Fintech, or financial technology, is not new. It popularized ATM machines in Hong Kong in the 1980s, as well as online banking in recent years. The Octopus card used by many Hong Kong people daily to pay for transportation and shopping is a product of fintech.

This rapidly developing trend in the banking world hasn't gone unnoticed in Hong Kong. Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah has, on various occasions, emphasized the importance and urgency for the banking community to join the fintech race.

But, the banking community and the general public have already acquired a much more urgent sense of awareness of fintech in the past few years when a slew of startups began offering digital services that encroach on a wide range of traditional banking businesses, including lending, payment and money transfer and financial advice.

While there's no substitute for a bank account, fewer and fewer people are finding it necessary to go to banks when most of the transactions can be done on computers and other devices in the comfort of homes.

Some banks, like ING, are facing the challenge through digital transformation. Others may be too rigid in their corporate structure to make the change. But, they're not expected to take it lying down. With their immense financial clout, they can simply gobble up some of the startups and incorporate their services into their systems.

As a prominent banker in Hong Kong once said, there's no fun going to the bank. Soon, the tech savvy customers can avoid the chore altogether.

 Going digital irresistible trend in banking sector

The advent of financial technology has popularized the use of ATMs in Hong Kong. The traditional banking sector in Hong Kong, as well as the rest of the world, is under intense pressure to keep up with digital transformation. Edmond Tang / China Daily

(HK Edition 10/05/2016 page5)