How are traditional banks digitally transforming? Source: Shutterstock

Digitizing the bank for a better customer experience

AS an increasing amount of consumers in Asia move online, banks are having to follow.

Hong Leong Bank is an example of such a company that has digitization at its core. The 113-year-old organization firmly believes that staying attuned to the customers’ needs and desires in today’s rapidly changing financial landscape is critical.

“No matter what we do, it’s always for the benefit of the customer”  Zalman Zainal, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at HongLeong Bank told Tech Wire Asia at an exclusive demonstration session.

Leveraging emerging technology

In order to create a better banking experience for customers, many financial institutions are experimenting with emerging technology such as AI and chatbots, facial recognition, robotics, and blockchain.

Last week Hong Leong Bank (HLB) launched their Digital Day 2018 campaign. From then until July 31, they will be showcasing their digital offerings to customers.

“We hope that our digital solutions will enable our customers to live their life uninterrupted 365 days a year,” explained Zainal.

Among the bank’s digital tools are facial recognition, payment request, AI chatbot, and conversational AI.

To promote these offerings and to increase customer engagement in the banking industry, HLB has launched their very own Facebook augmented reality filters.

“We are trying to make learning and using financial technology a little more interesting, engaging, and fun for customers,” said Zainal.

A seamless mobile app experience

For many financial institutions, mobile has become the primary channel for their audience to manage their funds. This is forcing many traditional banks to reconsider their UX approach.

To deliver a better experience to the digital consumer, financial institutions need to provide fast, convenient, secure and frictionless mobile service.

Mobile has become the primary platform for users to manage their finances. Source: Shutterstock

“[At HLB] a lot has been done to make the experience seamless and easy for customers, such as cardless cash withdrawals. We allow [our customers] to withdraw cash from the ATM without your card. This has been a lifesaver for me a few times already!” laughed Zainal.

The financial company has also ensured a number of other features in their app to provide a more seamless experience to customers.

This includes the removal of total access communication systems (TACs) to authorize payments with registered favorite accounts and the authorization of payments via facial recognition (with iPhone X customers only).

Internal as well as external digitization

While digitizing external processes is vital in the delivery of customer service excellence, according to Zainal, it is not just external processes that should be digitally transformed.

To deliver the best possible customer service, the internal processes of a financial institution should also be altered.

“We’re also using digital technology to help our people at the forefront,” explained Zainal.

Online e-Learning

Traditional e-Learning practices are often intranet based, which makes it hard for employees to complete training on-the-go or at home.

Last year, HLB introduced its “SmartUp” mobile e-Learning application, which allows its 8000+ workforce access to bite-sized, targeted learning content on the go.

Automating internal processes

Earlier this year HLB introduced HALI, an AI-powered chatbot developed to support human resource and branch operations.

HALI vastly improves operational efficiency by taking over the answering of staff queries on policies and procedures.

“The goal with Hali is to free up employees to do more human-facing tasks. So far, we have seen a 60 percent drop in manual operations,” Zainal told Tech Wire Asia.

Collaboration is key

According to Zainal, the key to driving innovation and transformation across financial institutions in the collaboration with both the thriving tech community and the customers themselves.

In the journey to digitization, collaboration is key. Source: Shutterstock


The HLB LaunchPad is a platform to nurture new ideas and talent from both fintech and tech startups to reinvent the way customers bank.

The initiative provides support both in the form of financial help and mentoring from senior management within HLB.

“While we want everything to be digitized, we are quite aware that we can’t do everything ourselves. Through true collaboration and partnerships with different fintechs, this is how we can accelerate our digital ambition.”


HLB also has plans in the pipeline to set up a customer experience lab where they can host customers to try out new services and innovations.

From the gathering of customer insights, HLB hopes to uncover new insights into customer behaviors to boost innovation. Through this collaboration with customers, they hope to co-create new products and features.

“we’re quite excited about this as it’s the first on-premises design lab by a bank. It’s about digital at the core and customers at the forefront,” said Zainal.