Banks are embracing the disruption to delight customers and secure revenues. Source: Shutterstock

Digital disruption is here to stay — how are Asian banks responding?

Digital has taken over and it is evident that the disruption will continue to change the trends of banking — especially in Asia.

Fintech players, for one, are becoming more dominant in the marketplace, offering critical services to the underserved and unbanked, like SMEs — market portions that traditional banks have not been able to cater to.

Lending, financial management, asset management, transaction, and investment are critical services that fintech companies have revolutionized by making them highly accessible to consumers with just a few clicks and taps.

Digitalized financial services have become strong alternatives to banking products on top of improved customer experience and higher value for money.

However, Asian banks are not sitting by and letting themselves lose relevance or appeal. Instead, they are transforming, strategizing, improving and advancing their operations from the very core to ensure that they are able to catch up with evolved demands and trends.

The changing climate of banking

In Asia, traditional banks have realized that a huge part of traditional business models can no longer drive growth that is adjacent to today’s market. Today, banks need to be more customer-centric, data-driven and automated in order to seize profitable opportunities that emerge as a result of rapid digital disruption.

Countries like Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand have responded by initiating efforts to regulate and administer digital-only banks.

Meanwhile, South Korean banks’ leaders have extended efforts by aligning goals to be more digital, global and trustworthy. The central idea of their alliance is to foster greater technology adoption as they move forward.

Indonesian banks, on the other hand, have embraced the disruption by deploying digital services to increase financial inclusion — which the country has managed to do.

The pattern here is clear. Asian banks are improving their digital infrastructure, leveraging advanced analytics and building partnerships in order to stay relevant in the market and serve customers efficiently.

For one, banks are resorting to newer advances and technologies — especially those that can support continuous innovative efforts, development of new applications, and scale current capabilities.

Legacy systems that are holding banks back and siloing platform-wide integration of applications are being traded for the cloud.

Automation tools are also becoming highly favored as banks recognize the need to discard manual workloads and reduce the burden of the workforce to accommodate the fast-pace of a digital ecosystem.

Asian banks are also developing greater reliance on data and analytics. They are fast becoming data-driven through the adoption of intelligent machines that generate in-depth insights to drive impactful operational actions. Customer data, transaction data, and application performance data are all being fed into artificial intelligence (AI) systems to gain a significant analysis of services that can be improved and revenues that can be maximized.

In fact, Hong Kong, in a bid to drive the adoption rate of AI in the banking sector, has released a critical report that addressed the challenges and strategies of implementing the technology successfully. Lastly, these banks are responding to the disruption by building strategic partnerships and collaboration. The central bank of Phillippines, for one, has recently allied with Indonesia to foster greater technology adoption and boost cross-border transactions.

It is safe to say that in delivering quality financial products, increasing data sharing prospects for greater insights, and expanding digital footprints, Asian banks are betting on partnerships.

Banks that are struggling in going digital are also learning that collaborating with fintech players could give them an upper hand and a boost in their journey.

The Asian banking sectors have been heavily disrupted, nevertheless. By embracing the disruption, these banks have been able to thrive in new market environments and remain relevant in the industry.

Moving forward, it is hoped that other traditional players that are stalling transformation will realize that it is a highly critical move that is achievable with the right strategies.