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Embracing the rapid growth of digital in the Chinese finance sector

I was recently lucky enough to be invited as a guest to the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers Annual Conference which set about tackling the big issues and opportunities facing the finance sector. Unsurprisingly, the most pressing issue for most of the 500 in the room was the seismic shift that technology is having on the sector, specifically the rapid growth of digital and mobile channels.

It’s well documented of course that the financial services industry as a whole is undergoing a fundamental transformation as a result of the changes that technology has brought about. In the UK, Precedent’s work in the finance sector over the past 18 months has rapidly increased. We have seen the likes of JP Morgan, Henderson Global Investors, Baring Asset Managers and Tesco Bank making great leaps towards embracing the opportunities that technology has offered them and they are really using digital to adapt to the changing ways in which their clients - whether customers, prospective customers or investors - now interact with them.

But what about Hong Kong?

So why was it that with the massive penetration of mobile throughout Hong Kong’s population, that so few of the speakers at the conference that represented the big financial organisations here had a mobile optimised website? The most basic of requirements these days and something that all such organisations should have.

It wasn’t that the speakers weren’t aware of the need. Far from it. Speaker after speaker identified technology as the game changer for the sector, there was a focus on mobile as a channel and why understanding consumer behaviour was high priority. The key issue slowing down progress was getting digital onto the board room agenda and getting the buy in needed to innovate and transform at the pace needed to really make a difference. A viable digital strategy and a roadmap for implementation is the thing that is missing.

Threats from the non-banking competition

The non-banking competition largely from China is a real threat to the established players in the region. When Yuan Leiming from Alibaba presented on their Small and Micro Financial Services Group and what he’s achieving with a staff of only seven it is clear why it really bought this threat home. The likes of Alibaba have the culture and technical clout to enable fast decision making and experimentation. However, the reality of the situation for the mainstream finance industry is that established financial institutions have to transform through lots of small steps rather than one giant leap. And this must be done in a timely manner.

Data driven quality of service

Alibaba’s explosive growth can be defined by three things; e-commerce penetration, emerging e-finance models and data driven quality of service. It’s the last of these that the established finance sector need to concentrate on. They have a massive advantage over the newcomers (and there will be many more) but more attention needs to be paid to what’s perceived as the little things such as a proper multi-channel relationship with their customers. In reality it’s not that easy, but is something that must be achieved and quickly if the established players are to truly deliver exceptional customer experience, and reap the benefits digital transformation offers.

This month we will be launching our latest report, entitled CX: Survival of the fittest that looks at the ways in which digital can help transform the customer experience. We have developed our own CARE model and CX fitness test that will help you to understand the importance of  interpreting customer insights and analytics in a way that lets you prioritise what needs to be done with your digital presence to achieve  your objectives and beat the competition.


To receive a copy of the report visit