APAC residents increasingly using virtual banking

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In recent years, new technologies have replaced traditional solutions [1]. The report by McKinsey & Company leaves no doubts about this. Inhabitants of this part of the world adapt new technological solutions with great ease [2].

According to research, people of the Asia-Pacific regions account for as much as 50% of all of the internet users in the world. Therefore it should not be surprising that this is a huge challenge for several areas of business. Including banking.

Banks are in constant competition to have the newest technological solutions. And clients adapt quickly. Internet and telephones are increasingly edging out traditional bank branch visits. This makes everything faster, cheaper and more convenient. Deloitte predicts that as early as 2025, a lion’s share of the purchasing power in Hong Kong, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore will rest in people who can use new technologies effectively [3]. At the same time,  the yearly dynamic growth in the use of mobile technology in the Asia-Pacific region (approx. 18%) [4] is causing inhabitants of the APAC zone to increasingly switch from traditional forms of banking to online solutions. For example, in Singapore mobile banking is currently used by approximately 38% of the population. This result, although comparable to others in the region, leaves countries such as Russia, France, and the United Kingdom far behind.

One of the first banks in the region to respond to these needs was Standard Chartered. At the end of last year, the bank teamed up with LiveBank to create fully functional virtual bank branches. Initially, Standard Chartered implemented the solution in Malaysia and Singapore. The very good test results and enthusiastic reception LiveBank received in these countries opened the door to launching the platform, in, among others, China, India, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Kenya and the UAE. This is the largest operation of its kind carried out by an international bank in history [5].

What did Standard Chartered gain?

The bank is moving with the times, consistently following new technologies, and the solutions offered are answers to the new lifestyle – much faster and more convenient. Today, most bank transactions are performed through electronic banking, increasingly using mobile applications. Thanks to their enormous reach, geographical barriers are disappearing. For a virtual bank, it does not matter where a client is at a given moment, nor what city he comes from. The bank offers much more than in the past – for convenience and enormous time savings, “face to face” service was transferred to the electronic channel, which effectively supports more complex banking processes, such as the ability to apply for a loan or open a deposit. The result is therefore a significant increase in the amount of finalized applications, which were in the past abandoned due to their complexity. All this for a simple reason. Today consumers manage finances every day, and a computer or a smartphone is their main form of contact with the bank.

Why are traditional and virtual banks different? After all, it is still the same bank. The explanation is simple – it is due to the lack of necessity for an expansion of the branch network and maintaining those branches. Banks offering electronic services – credit cards, online accounts or services via phone – reduce their own costs, which constitute one of the biggest factors weakening their financial results. This allows them to offer internet clients lower fees or a higher interest rate, if even on a savings account. Bank matters can be taken care of without leaving the house.

The conclusions of the research conducted by EY clearly indicate that banks, in order to continue to exist on the APAC market, will be forced to meet the demands of customers by developing their digital service access offer [6].


[1] Reference: http://www.mckinsey.com/industries/financial-services/our-insights/capitalizing-on-asias-digital-banking-boom [Digital Banking in Asia: What do consumers really want?, McKinsey&Company]
[2] Reference: http://wearesocial.com/sg/blog/2016/09/digital-in-apac-2016 [Digital in APAC 2016, WeAreSocial]
[3] Reference: https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/sg/Documents/financial-services/sea-fsi-digital-transaction-banking-noexp.pdf [Digital Transaction Banking: Opportunities & Challenges, Deloitte]
[4] Reference: http://www.slideshare.net/wearesocialsg/digital-in-2016 [Digital in 2016, WeAreSocial]
[5] Reference: https://www.sc.com/en/news-and-media/news/global/2016-07-21-video-banking-launch-asia-africa-mideast.html [Standard Chartered][6] http://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/EY-banking-in-asia-pacific/$FILE/EY-banking-in-asia-pacific.pdf [Banking in Asia-Pacific, EY]