Last night, Standard Chartered launched a redesigned and much improved “fully digital bank” as they are calling it. With such a significant move comes some pretty significant questions as well and Standard prepared a document that attempts to answer some questions you might have regarding this recent development.
What exactly is a true digital bank?
A true digital bank is one that serves its clients without them ever needing to come to our branch if they don’t want to, not even to open an account. It means giving clients the choice to do everything digitally from their mobile phone if they want, but they can also get help via phone, chat, a video link when they want more advice for a big financial decision. We aim to be digital with a human touch.
A digital bank relies on mobile and online technology advancements to provide a convenient, end-to-end digital banking service.
Is it possible for clients to do everything digitally without ever coming to a branch?
Yes, absolutely. They can send verification documents by scan from their mobile device. By downloading the ‘Standard Chartered Mobile app’, new clients can do their banking activities from their mobile devices.
Is it safe and secure for Standard Chartered to onboard clients this way?
Standard Know Your Clients (KYC) standards will be complied with and clients can scan and submit their documents via app. We are also in the process of integrating with the nation’s national registry which acts as a further safeguard.
How safe is your Mobile Banking offering in Zimbabwe?
- At Standard Chartered, delivering secure, stable services across all channels including internet and mobile banking to safeguard our clients’ interest is a high priority.
- We work with best in class technology partners and vendors to assess,prioritise and mitigate risk for the Bank and our clients. The Bank actively monitors our systems and the external environment 24×7 and will take the necessary actions if any threat is detected.
- We are confident of the Bank’s security protection, detection and response measures in place to manage and mitigate potential risk.
- In Zimbabwe, our digital channels use world standard security architecture, therefore, our clients should feel secure in using the Standard Chartered mobile offering.
- To ensure their own security online, we recommend that our clients to take measures to protect their banking information including user ID and password.
Why launch a digital Bank? Could you tell us more about your insights and the strategy?
Clients want to be able to bank digitally so we’re responding to client needs: Retail Clients are increasingly demanding quick, simple and easy ways of banking. The ubiquitous smart phone with a banking app that allows customers to complete all their transaction is a natural outcome and is the solution for the Bank to meet retail client needs. The strategic insight therefore was really simple – put the client at the centre of what we do, solving their needs in a simple, easy and convenient fashion.
How much did you invest and how does it compare with other new market openings?
We don’t reveal specific project investment figures as these are competitively sensitive, however, what we can say is that we continue to invest heavily in technology – in 2017, the Bank invested US$400 million in its digital banking operations globally.
How is Standard Chartered going about digitising in general? What’s the plan?
We are making our retail banking business fully digital (with a human touch) by 2020. For clients, this means empowering them with easy and convenient banking. We do this by designing banking with clients and for clients: It’s all to help them achieve their dreams and ambitions. It is a three-pronged strategy:
- ‘Self-serve’ (clients can do things themselves) and staff assisted channels
- End-to-end straight through processing
- Online/digital sales
How do you compete across different markets in the digital space?
Different markets have different client needs so we must always adapt. However, overall our clients tend to be digital savvy, they all expect banking to be at their fingertips – easy and convenient. This is why we’re standardising our platforms so that we can introduce innovative new technology in any market rapidly at an effective cost.
How many branches do you have now?
We have nine branches in Zimbabwe which serve Corporate and Retail Banking clients.
Will you be closing more branches after this launch?
As our clients and the world go digital and our branch transaction traffic is decreasing, we are always evaluating how we should reformat our current channels to deliver the most efficient service to our clients. Standard Chartered is leveraging the growth of digital banking and we will continue investing in and enhancing our mobile and online infrastructure as well as look at other banking models like alliances.
Future of Retail Banking
What will global Retail Banking in Africa look like in 5 years?
We are moving from ‘places where people go to Bank’ to ‘brands clients choose for financial transactions’, which means clients will have more choice and banking will be more convenient. The changes in banking are making life better for all of us (staff and clients) – less paper, more technology and remote services, more enriching interactions. Finally, banks will have a much sharper understanding of clients’ financial behaviour and anticipate future needs to offer tailored products and services.
But digital is not a destination. It is a path to superior client experience.
What is really your edge compared to FinTech, how will you win?
We do not consider fintech as competition. In fact, we team up with FinTech and test our new technology together to bring cutting edge technology for our clients.
We look at FinTechs as a great source of talents, ideas and new technologies, and look forward to working with FinTech in selected areas to benefit our customers. Some areas we are focused on are data, identity, chat bots, regulatory technology, cybersecurity.
What does the future hold for technology in Retail Banking?
It’s all about serving our clients and giving them more convenience and greater choice while keeping their transactions secure.
In the future, clients will decide on how they interface with the bank and day to day routine interactions likely be digital so banks will need to transform from ‘places where people go to bank’ to ‘brands that clients prefer to use for financial transactions’.
Delivering a seamless and excellent user experience will be what differentiates one bank from another. We want to be where our clients are. As an international Bank, we can learn and share best practices across our footprint to ensure our clients have the best banking experience possible
Will the increased use of digital channels diminish the role of bankers advising on investments?
In our view, digital capability provides banks with an ability to present multiple options to the clients to seamlessly interact with the bank at a time of his/her convenience. Though current technology platform offers ability to provide sophisticated wealth advisory services, the need for human interface is often sought before deciding on material investment/purchases.
What else are you looking at now?
Analytics will be an increasingly important guide to how we engage with clients. Using analytics, we can make offers to clients that are based on their needs. We can build deeper relationships because we understand our clients better. We are building strong capabilities in this area and we will keep you updated on our next moves when we are ready to announce them.
What are the growth aspirations for the retail bank and what are your future growth plans?
It’s really about staying on strategy: focus on serving emerging affluent clients in core cities and keep investing in technology so we can offer an outstanding banking experience.
Going forward, we will continue to invest in our end-to-end digitisation programme which will bring clients greater convenience, choice and security. We aim to be end-to-end digital by 2020.
How do you see the lots of local competition coming in from non-banks?
It’s very exciting to be in regions where technological changes happen so quickly. In Africa, we are fortunate to be one of the few major international banks. This means we can bring a lot to those markets and also learn a lot at the same time.
Other Possible Questions
Will you be letting more people go as you close branches?
We believe digitisation is good for all of us. It creates new opportunities for our people in the long run. Becoming digital means that a lot of time-consuming manual processes will be automated. Many on the back-office staff will get training as their roles change and these roles will become more rewarding as paperwork disappears. As our business model changes, we will also slow down on hiring as we adjust to new ways of serving clients in a more digital world. With digital, we will move our staff from back office to front line. We want our staff to spend more time with our clients offering advice on their finances and wealth.
What is your overall branch strategy?
Ultimately, it is about serving our clients in the way they want to be served – allowing them to do banking anytime and anywhere, through the channel they prefer. These days, people are looking to do most if not all their banking digitally – they don’t want to have to queue in a bank branch. Whatever they can do at the branch, they should be able to do via mobile or online banking. So, it’s really a reallocation of resources towards digital.
How will you protect client data over mobile use?
Standard Chartered has a comprehensive programme to address the cyber security threats, that meets with world standards. We also actively work with regulators, industry experts and other financial institutions to continuously improve. In addition, we also subject ourselves to independent audits to ensure sustained effectiveness. In CDI, we use the same global standards, therefore, you should feel secure in using the SC Mobile offering. We also request clients to take measures to protect their user ids, and passwords. We believe you have access to a very secure digital offering. Our systems and infrastructure are protected using industry best algorithms and multi-layered firewalls. We also have a very intensive monitoring process observing cyber security on a 24/7 basis. You have access to a world standard security setup.