Last week, Strands participated in a panel discussion at The World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI) Annual Meeting in Bangkok. Over 2 days, WSBI brought together savings and retail banks from 80 countries, representing the interests of approximately 6200 banks in all continents.

The expert panel, called “Banking in the 21st century: a customer-centric approach”, was moderated by Bob Hayward of KPMG IT. Representing the Fintech perspective was Strands Lead Business Developer (APAC) Xavier Marcillac, who was joined by bankers from BancoEstado Chile and Government Savings Bank Thailand.

WSBI Bankgok 2016

“The new normal for the financial services industry is characterized by a fast moving digital revolution and disruption by new market entrants within an environment characterized by a tsunami of international regulations,” summarized Xavier. “All of these factors are challenging traditional banks’ business models and revenue streams. At the same time, customer expectations are changing in line with the diffusion of tech innovations which have become part of the fabric of everyday life in a hyper-connected world.”

An additional challenge is how to strike the balance between consumer protection and using in-house and big data to improve the customer experience on all customer touch points in an omni-channel approach. Linked with this is the big threat of cyber security, which is one of the biggest challenges that banks, governments and other industries have to tackle today.

Xavier shared the following takeaways from the meeting:

  • Fintech is definitely seen as an opportunity to be explored by (savings) banks. However, questions remain regarding how exactly to convert this opportunity into new revenue streams.
  • Technology innovation is a true differentiator, however it is acknowledged that this innovation may have different meanings and impacts in different countries
  • Digital technology is critical in the present and future, but the human touch remains essential in the day-to-day activity of savings banks. For instance, these FIs are still struggling with serving their aging customers in the branches while simultaneously developing new digital tools.
  • Financial inclusion, a major mission for savings banks, will not be accomplished without profound human intervention
  • All WSBI members agreed that training employees is vital to serving customers better in a fast-paced changing world, but the challenge is to upgrade knowledge and foster internal creativity.

For more information, see the event website.