“We are keen to drive the development of new smart banking initiatives and industry partnerships to better support our customers,” says Daniel Chan, HSBC’s Head of Business Banking, Commercial Banking, Hong Kong.
Open API is a “new trend” in Hong Kong and in markets around Asia and beyond, says Chan.
“We’ve seen a lot of digital transformation in the business community in HK in line with the increasing aspiration to become a smart city. Customers are keener than ever to transform and stay competitive.”
“Over the past few years, HSBC has consistently rolled out digital initiatives and we’re always open to new ideas. As a bank we have the advantage of knowing our customers’ needs well and having their trust, and with that, we’re exploring more fintech solutions to accelerate open banking.”
For Hong Kong’s banks, the shift to Open API is a natural progression for providing their customers’ needs and desires in an era where individuals and businesses are increasingly digital-savvy.
“We continue to up our digital game to strengthen services to existing customers as well as establish new banking relationships. So, it’s not at all a reactive stance. Digital has become a key element in enabling them to do their business better,” he says.
“What we’ve been doing is continuing to create value for our clients. We need to see things from a customer angle, and assess how our current solutions provide the right help or whether there are any gaps. That is where we see a space for partnerships with different industry players to really drive additional value and better address their pain points,” he says.
As the industry comes to realise the importance of a tech overhaul and embrace the use of third-party tech, making connections between banks and fintechs is increasingly important, and alongside the regulator, organisations like HKSTP are crucial in acting as intermediaries.
As one of the city’s prime incubators of tech and fintech startups, HKSTP is primed for building links with the banking industry, making introductions and ensuring that there is a supply chain of third parties aware of regulations and can provide tech solutions for the specific needs of that industry. It plays a strong role in terms of the technology side and nurturing the fintech startups in its incubation program, and is set to benefit all parties.
“Combining our expertise and understanding in banking, with the innovative minds of tech specialists, we’re coming up with new solutions that cater to customer needs in a simpler and faster way,” Chan says. “This new-found synergy with tech ventures and specialists has opened up limitless possibilities. With more collaboration and exchange of viewpoints, there will certainly be a lot more co-creation along the way that brings breakthroughs to Open API development.”
The API EcoBooster program, co-hosted by HSBC and HKSTP, invites application developers from Hong Kong and around the world to build Open API solutions for the banking industry, creating opportunities for new products and services for areas such as loan services, transactions and operation, credit cards, digital payments and customer record management.
The program has given the bank an “opportunity,” says Chan. “We have come across a number of fintech companies with great aspirations and ideas. Based on our understanding in the SME community and ongoing communication with our vast customer base, we’re looking at particular use cases best suited for us to co-create solutions and together bring enhancements to.”
“The program provides the right kind of environment and mentorship from our digital banking specialists in nurturing some of these great and innovative startups. We look forward to seeing the creation of successful use cases that could make banking more customer centric,” he adds.
The data gold rush
“Banks have a wealth of historical customer data at their disposal and yet have not been well equipped to translate that information into actionable insights and better personalised services,” says Marc Entwistle, Principal of Digital Financial Services at Oliver Wyman, and a Co-founding director and board member at the FinTech Association of Hong Kong.
Hungry for ideas
“To serve our customers better, the objective is not to bring in technology for the sake of technology…. we think open banking could be one of the approaches to help us improve that,” says Hang Seng’s Gilbert Lee, Head of Strategy & Planning and Chief of Staff to the Chief Executive of Hang Seng Bank.