Hong Kong financial services are embracing financial tech

For many years the Asia Pacific region has been associated with the financial services industry. Singapore and Hong Kong are long-established banking destinations in the region and home to regional headquarters for many of the world’s most well-known global financial institutions.

However, financial services companies based in Hong Kong find themselves under pressure from a variety of directions: customer expectations have increased, with most now expecting more for a lower cost. Resources have become more expensive and financial services companies have to manage those increasing costs. Regulation is always a factor as well.

Alongside that, profit margins are not what they were and additional costs are changing the way companies look to the future. According to PwC research, financial companies in Asia Pacific see three major threats to their potential for growth: 87 percent of companies cite too much regulation as their chief concern, 81 percent see speed of technological change as a threat, and 76 percent consider geopolitical uncertainty their top concern.

Financial services embracing financial tech

Digital transformation is impacting every industry in the world, and fintech promises to shake up the financial services space. Financial services companies in Hong Kong have begun to recognize the benefits that fintech can bring to them. They can evolve from being ‘just’ financial services companies, to becoming ‘financial technology’ companies. Staying ahead of the competition means integrating digital services and solutions into existing offerings, and doing it now.

Embracing fintech enables you to meet the requirements of digitally-savvy customers. They expect mobile and online banking, multichannel communications at a minimum and preferably omnichannel communications. The old image of financial services customers needing to make appointments with their bank branch managers and attend meetings no longer applies. Today, financial services customers want to do their banking via their smartphones and interact via multiple channels, including social media apps.

Digital tools, social media and other apps allow consumers to compare financial products and services, discuss them with peers and make better informed choices about them. They have also empowered people in other ways, such as making it easy to complain! A post on Twitter or Facebook is quickly amplified and can become a much larger problem than just a single consumer complaining directly to a company by phone. The damage to a financial company’s brand can be huge.

Transform with digital to thrive

At Orange, we focus on helping customers develop strategies that combine digital technology with a human touch. This is highly relevant to customer service and operations in the financial services sector in Hong Kong for example. The traditional contact center model has to evolve to keep pace with the habits of the modern digital consumer.

Customers today expect to engage with their bank or other financial organization using integrated omnichannel communications, using any device or channel, and on-demand. They want problems solved quickly, and as one 2016 survey found, 63 percent of customers cited “quick issue resolution” or “issue resolution on first contact” as the most important element of a good customer experience.

Chatbots are also on the rise, illustrating the rapid rise of artificial intelligence (AI) in recent times, and they have a role to play in the digital financial services company of today and tomorrow. Furthermore, as the network continues evolving towards the “as-a- service” model, software defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) will increasingly come into play, offering financial services companies the opportunity for greater agility than ever before.

Hong Kong is a city that always seeks to innovate and develop new ways ahead. For the future of the financial services industry, the shift to digital customer service and operations and fintech looks inevitable and exciting.

To read more about how financial services companies can use digital transformation to innovate and stay competitive, please read a new PwC white paper, “Navigating the perfect storm: Digitally Transforming Customer Service and Operations in Financial Services

Brenda Chan

Brenda Chan is General Manager for Orange Business Hong Kong & Taiwan. She is responsible for developing and managing Orange Business' portfolio of business solutions for multinational enterprises, and provides strategic direction to support the growth of Orange Business as the leading integrated communications provider for the country.

Brenda has over 20 years' experience in IT and telecommunications with various providers including Orange Business, BT, AT&T and PCCW. She has in-depth telecoms experience and strong customer-centric focus that lets her enjoy trusted partnerships with customers.