Asia Banking Research

On November 18th, Baidu announced that it was finalising its private bank plans and would be setting up a banking venture with China Citic bank called Baixin. This was the last of the 3 BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent) to setup a private bank and was widely expected, although potentially a bit later than originally thought.

Two days after the global transaction service provider SWIFT reported that in August the yuan overtook the Japanese yen to be the world's fourth-largest payment currency, accounting for 2.79% of the global market, yesterday the PBOC launched the Cross-Border Interbank Payment System (CIPS) in Shanghai.

Earlier this week, Alibaba announced it would be investing an additional estimated USD680 million in Paytm, India’s largest mobile payment platform and part of One97 Communications. The investment ups Alibaba's overall ownership to around 40% and shows the e-commerce giant's ambitions to further help develop the mobile commerce and payment industry in India. The money will primarily be used to strengthen the technological platform, customer acquisition and entry into new categories.

If you've ever been to China, you know how atrocious the mobile phone service can be. Previously, you could use any of a number of carriers...as long as it was China Mobile. You could move your number to a different carrier...as long as you had a different number. Users really had no choice as the market was controlled by the government and the 3 main state-owned carriers. Xiaomi is one of eight firms that will be trying to change this.

A cinema in Beijing recently announced that it had become a 'smart movie theatre' by allowing moviegoers to book tickets on their phone which can then be read by a machine a the theatre. Not a completely innovative idea, but considering Alibaba is involved, this could be a big change in the way people consume the medium.

Kapronasia is pleased to be a media partner for the Emerging Asia E-Commerce & Supply Chain Conference to be held in Bangkok on July 29th-30th, 2015. The event continues to be one of the key events across the region and is this year again in Thailand, where payments and e-commerce remain a key focus for the country going forward. 

One of the latest ads from Huawei, the large Chinese manufacturer of networking equipment, is a rather disturbing wrapped up ballerina's foot. While the idea is good, the advertisement shows that there's still a gap in understanding between tech and the consumer. 

Based on a note from the People's Bank of China, China's personal credit scores may very soon be coming from the tech giants rather than any financial institution or credit data provider. On January 5th, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) sent out a note to eight non-banking institutions that they should "prepare for personal credit information operations" within 6 months. Although the note is a bit vague, the effort could indicate the end of what has been a continual problem with personal finance in China.

With a wide range of channel choices for retail customers, banks need to be aware of the usage and preferences for each channel which can vary for multiple reasons including the purpose of the transaction, complexity and where the person is from.

On the digital channel, customers usually require a fast and convenient service such as simple transaction or checking an account balance, but for branch service, customers, especially affluent customers require tailored personal interactions such as loan servicing, investment advice, and other complex transactions.

In self-service channels, Asian customers not only need a convenient and easy channel, but also a personalized interactive service to increase their loyalty to the bank as competition is rising and switching costs are lowering, especially in the wealth management space.

These wealthier customers produce higher value for banks, and usually they have a wide range of choices on banking services. In Asia, affluent customers show greater loyalty to their banks, while in most European countries and the U.S., affluent customers have relatively lower loyalty to their banks. Thus, maintaining affluent customers is important for banks to generate higher revenues.

Citi, one of the major players in Asia's wealth management space offers tailored services in Singapore. Their Citigold service provides a dedicated center for nonresident Indians. The personalized interaction improved the loyalty from their affluent customers because Citigold satisfied nonresident Indians’ special requirement on banking services.

However, China is showing a significant gap between affluent and mass-market customers on loyalty because the affluent customers receive much better service from their bank than mass-market customers do.

Banks should not only rely on channel innovation but also focus on improving service on the existing channels. Maintaining the existing affluent customers with tailored service is crucial to the bank since the affluent customers will continually show a high loyalty to their banks in Asia, but enhancing a required service or product for mass-market customers through different bank channels will also increase the overall customer loyalty.  

Customer Channel Preferences in Asia

The Asian Retail banking business has developed rapidly in the past two decades as both economies and businesses have increased in sophistication and wealth. Japan is still the largest retail banking market in Asia, however, China will surpass Japan to be the largest in Asia in 2015.

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