"In conversation with..." is a series from Kapronasia featuring conversations with some of Asia's most interesting fintech players and companies. To keep up with the series, please subscribe to our newsletter. If you have an interesting story and want to be part of the conversation, reach out.
This edition is done in collaboration with Fintech Connect Leaders Asia 2023 to be held on August 28 - 30 in Singapore.
Hello, everyone, and welcome back to another edition of “In conversation with” where we talked to some of the movers and shakers in the fintech industry across Asia. My name is Zennon Kapron, and we're really happy today to have Sri from HSBC with us today. Sri is the Asia lead for cross-border and cross-currency payments. Thank you so much, Sri, for taking the time.
1. Can you briefly introduce yourself and your role at HSBC?
Hi, my name is Sri and I am part of HSBC’s regional product team within Global Payments Solutions. I am originally from Mumbai, India but have been working in Singapore and Hong Kong for more than 3/4th of my professional life. I have done global product and treasury roles and have worked with a Fintech in the past.
In HSBC, I am responsible for Cross Border Payments and FX for Corporate customers in the region. We are focused on how we support customers in their business and help them to pay and get paid more efficiently. We do that by improving our current products and innovating to come up with you solutions.
2. You’ve been with HSBC for just under six years, how has your role evolved over time?
When I started, my role was focused on payment FX and bulk cross border patments. It has been an exciting journey working some innovative ideas and growing the business. Recently I have also started looking at cross border payments for the region on an interim basis.
3. How do you see the banking industry evolving over the next decade, particularly in Southeast Asia?
From a payments perspective, Banking is evolving to help businesses grow and come up with new propositions. New use cases and business models will come up and often times payments might be at the heart and centre of these developments.
There is a focus on integrating markets and making cross border payment seamless and frictionless. This is being driven at multiple fronts. The different players are investing and innovating to improve the user experience for cross border payments. Governments are looking at it as part of G20 initiative to reduce remittance costs. There are initiatives to link real time payment rails across markets. All these will bring significant convience to the customers across corporate and retail space.
Southeast Asia particularly is seeing a lot of work on cross border integration. So whether it’s the Singapore FAST and Thailand Prompt integration, the Malaysia-Indonesia-Thailand corridor or Nexus which aims to connect 5 markets in the region – Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines. All these initaitives are aimed at bring down the barriers to cross border trade and facilitate easy travel between markets.
The other trend we are seeing is the work to promote settlement in the home currency so as to reduce the FX risk of their exporters and importers. It is still very early days and time will tell how well it takes off.
4. What makes HSBC's approach to payments in Southeast Asia (or Asia?) different from other regions?
Asia is a core market HSBC and we continue to invest and grow our business in the region. We are live in 15 markets for Real Time Payments. We have invested in a number of products and solutions in the region. We recently launch ECOM Direct which helps eCommerce companies to pay efficiently to their sellers in China.
5. Can you share some examples of how HSBC is leveraging technology to improve customer experience in this region?
HSBC is one of the top 3 processor of cross border payments globally. As a result multitude of data passes through our systems. We are leveraging this data it to see how we can improve client experience and help them in making more informed decisions. On product that we launch a few years back is FX Prompt. When a customer comes to HSBCNet, our internet Banking portal, and keys in Bene bank and account details, we immediately prompt the bene currency to them. This way the customers can then decide which currency to pay in.
6. What technologies do you think will have the most impact on the future of payments in Asia and why?
Cloud, chatGPT. Cloud helps to consolidate data fragmented across multiple markets and systems. We can then use it to make more informed decisions and client discussions. Chat GPT can help to automate a number of internal processes which are done manually. The result will be that we focus on decision making and execution instead of procedural activities. For example, in big organization like ours, we spend a lot of time looking/asking for information or providing information. Similarly preparing cookie cutter presentations and responses can be automated using Chat GPT
7. What keeps you up at night?
Nothing much. We work with a lot of passion and energy. Our aim is how do we improve client experience and help them to focus on their core business better. Like they say in sports, we leave it all out there on the field. At the end of the day if you have given your best, there is not much use keeping up at night.
8. What is the one thing that no one is talking about regarding payments that will impact the industry the most in the future?
While there is a lot of talk about making cross border payments near real time, often times the enablers to make this happen is not spoken about enough. One important aspect is liquidity and its associated costs. It doesn’t feel that this is being talked about enough.
9. Can you share a sneak peek about what you would be sharing at Fintech Connect 2023?
I am a panel speaker on the topic of how has APAC markets progressed towards a cashless society and how far is Asia away from becoming cashless. This is a very important subject for a few reasons. Cashless and inclusiveness are tightly coupled with each other. The more an economy becomes cashless, the more it improves the opportunity for everyone to participate in it. A cashless economy removes the friction and costs involved in a traditional economy. This efficiency in turns positively impact the ability to grow businesses and improve the overall economy.
During the session, we will talk about what are the enablers for a cashless society and the role of the different players in achieving this goal.
10. What are 2 things you find most valuable about attending Fintech Connect?
This is my second year attending Fintech Connect. I really cherish the perspective and understanding that I gain from attending the different sessions and interacting with the various attendees. Fintech Connect has particiants from the different sectors of the industry, like banks, payment aggregators, new age Financial Institutions and Fintechs. Also the breadth of the markets that are represented makes it a leading international event
11. Why is Fintech Connect an event not to be missed?
Fintech Connect is the place to be if you are involved in the payment space or interested in finding about what is happening. Not just that you can pick up early trends on what to expect in the coming years
That's a great way to sum up the key takeaways here. Sri, thank you so much for your time. Looking forward to seeing you at Fintech Connect Leaders Asia in a couple of weeks. Again, this has been Kapronasia’s In Conversation With, in collaboration with Fintech Connect Leaders Asia 2023. Thanks again, Sri, really appreciate your shared insights here.
Fintech Connect Leaders Asia is the leading annual meeting place for CIOs, CTOs, COOs, and Heads of Digital Transformation and Payments happening this August from 28-30 at Raffles City Convention Centre, Singapore. The 2023 agenda can be downloaded here.
Kapron Asia readers enjoy 15% off tickets when using the code KPA15 to get tickets.