Standard Chartered: Expects positive changes to the Vietnamese banking landscape

15:12 | 25/01/2019 Economy

(VEN) - Vietnam Economic News’ Lan Huong spoke with Harmander Mahal, Head of Retail Banking, Standard Chartered Bank Vietnam.

expects positive changes to the vietnamese banking landscape
Harmander Mahal, Head of Retail Banking, Standard Chartered Bank Vietnam

What do you think would likely be the future trend of retail banking in Vietnam and around the world?

Global retail banking trends are largely influenced by the increasing pace of what we can now do with technology and the different skills that new players, eg fintechs, bring to the market.

We see two key trends:

The first trend is the growing importance of client engagement. Banking is shifting from being purely about financial transactions to an increased focus on client experience. Delivering great experience through instant and personalised services is as important as the product suite and solutions. Thus, investing in innovation and improving client engagement is being increasingly focused on by banks across the world.

The second trend is the evolution of banking and the growth of digital and self-service banking. This allows clients to access safe and convenient banking services anytime, anywhere. At the same time, it helps banks reduce costs, improve speed and service quality and put power into the hands of their clients.

We are seeing the same trends happening in Vietnam, where banks are investing significantly in technology and introducing a variety of customer engagement innovations to drive client experience. Vietnam is a great place for innovations, given its tech savvy population and very high internet and mobile phone penetration. We expect positive changes to the local banking landscape in time to come.

How is Standard Chartered growing with these trends?

We’ve been leading the way in retail banking by building products and capabilities to make banking easier and meet the demands of the rapidly growing affluent and emerging affluent consumers in our dynamic markets, including Vietnam, and evolving in sync with our clients’ digitally-connected lives. Globally, we have invested close to US$1 billion during 2015-2018 in digital, wealth management and infrastructure, including areas such as artificial intelligence, chatbots and cybersecurity. These have enabled us to stay ahead of the games and be able to meet the dreams and ambitions of our clients.

We have introduced to our markets various flagship innovations to improve client experience and drive our business efficiencies. For example, we launched a fully digital bank in the Ivory Coast, a market where we had no retail banking presence, in March 2018. And plans are underway to create one for Hong Kong. We have also launched Stacy, Standard Chartered’s Retail Banking chatbot, in Hong Kong. The chatbot acts as a virtual personal assistant to help clients manage money, make payments and analyse their spending in a split-second, via natural conversations in English and other languages. In Vietnam, we have introduced a range of innovative digital capabilities to our clients aimed at providing them easy, convenient banking solutions, such as Mobile Banking app, Good Life app, and Robotic Deposit Locker - the first of its kind in the country.

We are seeing more clients using our digital banking capabilities group-wide: in May 2018, our digital adoption rate was 47 percent, up from 33 percent in 2014, and in some markets, digital penetration has already exceeded 60 percent. In Vietnam, Standard Chartered is clearly positioned as a digital bank with branches. Over 99 percent of non-cash transactions at the bank are conducted digitally, and almost all of our clients have registered for online banking and SMS banking services.

What is your strategy for retail banking business in Vietnam?

We see Vietnam as an exciting consumer market with huge potential. It is projected to be one of the countries with the fastest-growing affluent population globally through 2020.

Our retail banking business in Vietnam has been designed to serve the affluent and emerging affluent segments, and we are focused on building scale in high-growth cities. We partner with clients at different stages of their life journey and serve their financial needs as they build their wealth. We bring market-leading, customized value propositions and services to meet our clients’ evolving needs.

The potential to bank the unbanked is tremendous. Only around 35 percent of the Vietnamese has a banking relationship. We will continue to leverage our international expertise and local capabilities to deliver world-class products and services to our clients, and building our distribution channels to provide them greater access and convenience. We are excited about the prospects of our retail business in Vietnam.

What is your strategic business plan in the coming year?

Digitization will continue to be a key focus and we will continue to invest heavily in digital platforms to bring greater convenience to clients. We plan to launch a number of digital centers to broaden our scope of service and allow our clients to transact at their convenience round the clock. Equipped with cutting-edge technology, the centers will enable our clients to perform a range of basic transactions independently, such as cash deposit and withdrawal, access online banking and contact our client care staff.

We will also continue to leverage the combination of our strong physical presence and innovative digital capabilities to provide clients with a first-rate banking experience. Clients always sit at the heart of what we do and our focus remains on meeting their evolving needs through the delivery of quality products and services that simplify and enhance their lives.

Our aim is to be a digital bank with a human touch. We always think about our clients as we design our products, services and platforms and offer digital banking that is easy, convenient, and secure. We also offer them choices: they can do everything digitally if they want to but they can also get some help from somebody in the bank via phone or visit a conveniently located branch when they want more advice.

Lan Huong