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The Bank of Tomorrow – Hizam Ghazali

Hizam Ghazali
General Manager, Head of IT Solutions & Design Telekom Malaysia

Banks have been at the forefront of digital transformation. They have always been the leading adopters of technology and have led the way to show how customer journeys can be digitalised.

As consumers, we seldom have to go to banks now and the banks have come to the consumer’s smartphone. Add to this the plethora of new innovative financial services made available by start-ups and tech giants alike. Consumers are besieged with choices.

Despite all the progress, this is still Day One for the banking industry. The per-capita consumption of financial services in our country and globally is still at low single (3 to 4 services) digits. Financial services are the backbone of every personal life, and every business and industry.

“There are huge opportunities to improve this consumption by taking away points of friction and improving accessibility. TM as a digital enabler to the banking industry, we see there are four (4) distinct innovation opportunities as we look into the next decade”, says Hizam Ghazali, Head of Digital Services, Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM).

Some of the potential innovative services opportunities are:

#1 Invisible banking
Most of us are not excited about making a trip down to the bank. It is often considered a waste of precious time. Bill Gates famously quoted way back in 1994, “Banking is essential, but banks are not.” The vision is to help us consume banking and financial services without visiting the bank or even transacting over the banking app. Akin to the famous “Intel Inside” campaign, can banks enable us to live better lives but still be invisible, make it so easy to consume that we are not even aware of its existence? The key is to embed the services seamlessly into the existing customer journeys, be it shopping or furthering your education. The more the invisibility, the greater the ease of consumption. It has taken us over two and a half decades to understand the vision that Bill Gates espoused.

#2 Ecosystems
Ecosystems are a way of organising the business to enable a high degree of collaboration between various stakeholders (customers, partners, employees, investors, government). It is a new business model which harnesses the idea of co-creation by the various industry stakeholders. Almost all digital-native businesses that we know such as Google, Amazon and GRAB are examples of the ecosystem in action. Banks have this incredible opportunity to build their own ecosystems as well as become part of others to drive growth. Through the use of Open Banking Application Programmable Interface’s (API’s), banks can now enable third-party fintech companies to access their core banking capabilities and develop innovative products to serve customers. The biggest benefit is the ability to innovate and take new services faster to market. The ecosystem owner focuses on the user experience and relies on the stakeholders to help drive innovation, market outreach and other capabilities. While GRAB started with the Mobility Ecosystem, they saw incredible growth during the pandemic in their Delivery Ecosystem and their future growth agenda is with the Financial Services Ecosystem.

#3 Hyper-personalisation
A critical pillar of differentiation for banks moving forward will be their ability to personalise services for the customers. Open Banking is an enabler for hyper-personalisation. This allows customers to opt-in and allows the bank have oversight of their financial investments across all providers. Then, through the use of big data and Artificial Intelligence (AI), they can be in a good position to generate customer-specific insights and offer very personalised solutions. These personalised solutions can be an aggregation of the bank’s products as well as third-party providers. Enabling this frictionless, personalised user experience has been the strategy adopted by several of today’s banking leaders in response to the competition from big-tech. Offering this at a large scale requires tight integration of technologies and partnerships.

#4 Security
While we saw a massive uptake of digital banking in the last 18 months, it has brought about a huge spike in cybercrime. Banking related phishing attacks have seen a twenty-fold increase in the same period of time. The situation is aggravated as the less digital-savvy population, which is the most vulnerable, starts adopting digital banking services. Banks are responding to this challenge with increased measures to authenticate users and add additional layers of security. These additional security measures are impediments to the greater use of digital banking. We believe there is an opportunity for banks to use some of the latest technologies including biometrics and AI to enable a secure yet frictionless experience.

Research firm, twimbit has estimated that the per capita consumption of financial services is set to explode and reach about 15 to 20 services by the end of the decade. While the competition is intense, there is enough opportunity for all market participants, simply because of the growth in innovation.

“I am excited about how the financial services industry is going to evolve in the coming decade. The convergence between these four (4) innovation opportunities will open a plethora of new possibilities. We are seeing more banks, e-commerce businesses and other financial institutions adopting digital components such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to enhance its daily operations, processes and of course, customer experience. We look forward to partnering with the industry to enable this new vision of possibilities,” Hizam added.

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