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星展银行CEO:中新两国银行巨头的金融科技战

传统金融的互联网化国际资讯

星展银行CEO:中新两国银行巨头的金融科技战

高博德(Piyush Gupta)认为,传统银行与中国新兴金融科技巨头间的对抗会带来一些问题。

高博德作为新加坡星展银行(DBS Group)CEO,一直致力于将自己的实体银行规划发展成一家科技公司,争取在和腾讯、蚂蚁金服等中国互联网支付公司的竞争中占得优势。腾讯和蚂蚁金服的市场扩张都指向东南亚和印度,而这些地区恰是星展银行的市场重心所在。

高博德今年58岁,2009年担任星展银行CEO,之前是花旗银行(Citigroup)东南亚地区CEO。他说:"我们一直在互联网金融服务第一线。"他表示,欧美地区互联网金融服务发展比不上中国,其中欧洲也比不上美国。在此基础上,星展银行的数字支付服务就更加引人注目。

他还发现,过去十年,中国科技公司崛起,社会也在进行巨大变革,人们的消费方式、借贷渠道、储蓄手段等都在改变。蚂蚁金服与腾讯公司为社会提供各类互联网支付服务,占据了92%的中国市场。

从2012至2016年,星展银行的技术投资约35亿美元,移动支付软件DBS PayLah!在新加坡有80万用户。新加坡的小贩中心(又称熟食中心)食物物廉价美,非常有名。星展银行曾雇佣1000名兼职人员在那进行无现金付款消费宣传,推广自己的移动支付产品。

在印度尼西亚等海外市场,星展银行没有收购银行,也未增设分支机构,而是通过推行数字支付服务的方式发展零售业务,这和蚂蚁金服、腾讯手段一致。高博德在上周采访中表示:"我们是一家科技公司。数字支付的好处是不会遗留其他问题,它给予了银行业新的定义。"

为发展在线支付服务,星展银行在5月8日上架了一款数字顾问产品,名为"个人理财定位", 客户可打开银行app作进一步了解。该产品分析客户账户活跃度和消费情况,以客户预算及理财目标为基础提供定制理财服务。

桑福德伯恩斯坦公司(Sanford C. Bernstein)分析师Kevin Kwek说:"这种产品很实用,它帮助银行尽可能地走进消费者的生活,而不是仅仅提供传统业务。这不是星展银行独有的服务,还有很多银行也在发展该业务。"

减少实体分行

高博德预计,由于消费者采用数字支付的频率愈来愈高,在未来五年内,星展银行新加坡分行的数量将减少10%。

Vikram Pandit在2012年辞职之前曾担任花旗银行CEO,他认为高博德是全球银行业第一批意识到金融科技重要性的CEO之一。

去年Pandit预测,在未来五年内,人工智能和机器人等技术会让银行业30%的工作岗位消失。Pandit说:"高博德一早便相信,科技会让服务效率更高。"他还表示:"高博德不仅能看到未来的金融服务发展方向,他还能引领和推动数字领域的变革。"

阿里巴巴决心进驻东南亚,在2016年以10亿美元收购了新加坡电商企业来赞达(Lazada),后又追加30亿美元的投资。此外,蚂蚁金服与泰国、印度尼西亚的公司也展开了合作,为其提供支付服务。腾讯同样投资了印尼一家共享出行服务商Go-Jek,该服务商也提供在线支付服务。

未来发展模式

高博德表示:"银行业未来的发展不同于当下,你必须对企业进行变革。假如你还将资本和管理重心放在过时的东西上,这可能不是明智之举。"

亚洲新兴经济体

55%的消费者都愿意使用在线支付。高博德早年在花旗银行交易银行部门任职,而一般的银行CEO大多来自零售部门或投资银行部门。他认为这一特殊经历是他能发现金融科技威胁性的原因。他还坚信,这一经历不仅令他更加了解银行业的方方面面,也让他对技术非常重视。2001年从花旗银行辞职后,高博德曾尝试过创业。不过由于互联网泡沫破裂,他创立的互联网站也倒闭了。

高博德认为,亚洲以外地区的银行应对金融科技动作缓慢的另一原因在于金融危机后对提高资本充足率的考虑。对它们而言,问题并未浮出表面,监管环境也不同。欧美许多银行当时都忙着签订巴塞尔协议,讨论资本和资产流动性问题,没时间研究金融科技公司的威胁性。

星展银行发展数字支付的野心对投资者来说是好事。它的股票一直回升,持续了2年多时间,星展银行也因此成了东南亚市值最高的公司之一。该公司的数字战略有利于降低成本,并且股本收益率预计在未来五年内将达到13%到14%。

高博德的警告

数字战略的另一好处是,星展网上银行有助于收拢新的客户群。星展银行2017年年度报告显示,去年新加坡有80%的中小型新企业以及37%的个人理财新客户开始采用数字支付。

但高博德也承认,他虽然有所准备,但也不一定足以对抗中国企业以及国内的Grab等对手。Grab是一家共享出行公司,去年发布电子钱包服务时就已在新加坡拥有400百万用户。

高博德说:"但是未来很难预料。大多数公司都会引用拳王泰森那句话,'每个人在挨一拳之前都很自信',但你不知道那拳会什么时候打在你脸上。"

Piyush Gupta sees himself as uncomfortably close to the action in the battle between traditional banks and China's insurgent fintech giants.

The chief executive officer of Singapore's DBS Group Holdings Ltd. has been trying to re-engineer his brick-and-mortar bank so that it operates more like a technology company, in order to give it a better chance in the struggle with Chinese online payment firms Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Ant Financial, owned by billionaire Jack Ma. Both companies are targeting DBS's core markets of Southeast Asia and India for expansion.

"We are in the front line" said Gupta, 58, who took over at DBS in 2009 after rising up the ranks at Citigroup Inc. DBS is more exposed than U.S. and European counterparts, because technology firms like Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc. have been slower than the Chinese to diversity into online finance, he said, adding that U.S. banks "could afford to be a little more sanguine."

In contrast, Gupta is keenly aware of the massive transformation underway in China that's changing how people spend, borrow and save, thanks to the rise of tech-savvy fintech startups over the past decade. Ant and Tencent have vast online payments businesses inside China, where they control 92 percent of the market.

From 2012 through 2016, DBS invested about $3.5 billion upgrading its technology, including the development of its mobile payments app, known as DBS PayLah!, which has about 800,000 users in Singapore. It even recruited some 1,000 part-timers to go around the country's famous hawker centers, purveyors of cheap but delicious street food, to try to get them to shun cash and go digital.

In overseas markets like Indonesia, instead of buying a bank or adding branches, DBS is trying to grow its retail business in the same way as Ant and Tencent by rolling out digital payments services. "Our role model is a tech company," Gupta said in an interview last week. "Because they are not burdened with a legacy. They basically came and re-imagined how banking could be done."

Toward that end, DBS on May 8 launched a digital adviser called "Your Financial GPS," now available to more than 2.5 million customers with the bank's app. The service analyzes a customer's bank account activity, categorizes expenses and offers tailored financial advice based on the individual's budgets and financial goals.

"It is a sensible product in the sense that banks would be well placed to integrate themselves into customers' daily lives beyond banking, to the extent possible, and DBS isn't the only bank hoping to do this," said Kevin Kwek, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein.

Fewer Branches

As customers use less cash and turn to digital banking, the number of DBS branches in Singapore could come down by about 10 percent over the next five years, Gupta said.

The DBS chief was one of the first global banking CEOs to realize the importance of meeting the fintech challenge, according to Vikram Pandit, who used to be Gupta's boss when he headed Citigroup, before leaving in 2012.

"Piyush was an early proponent of using technology to serve more customers more efficiently," said Pandit, who predicted last year that the advances in areas such as artificial intelligence and robotics will destroy about 30 percent of banking sector jobs over the next five years. "But it's not just his ability to see the future of financial services that is important here, it is his methodical approach to leading and executing this digital transformation," Pandit added.

Jack Ma's drive into Southeast Asia has included the $1 billion acquisition of Singapore-based e-commerce firm Lazada in 2016, which became a launchpad for Ant Financial's Alipay service. Since then, Ant has partnered with companies in Thailand and Indonesia to provide payments services, and has invested a further $3 billion in Lazada. Tencent, owned by billionaire Pony Ma, has invested in Go-Jek, an Indonesian ride-hailing firm which also has payments facilities.

Future Model

"The future model of banking is going to be different," said Gupta. "You need to focus right now on transforming the company to cater to this future model. If you wind up spending a lot of capital and management bandwidth on what I think are things of the past, I am not sure that's a smart thing to do."

In Emerging Asia...

Almost 55% of customers say they would consider branchless digital-only bank Gupta credits his early recognition of the threat to his early days in Citigroup's transaction banking division, unusual for a bank CEO, who tend to hail from the retail or investment banking arms of their institutions. That background taught him both the nuts and bolts of banking and the importance of technology, Gupta said. He also dabbled briefly but unsuccessfully in the startup world, when he quit Citigroup in 2001 to found an Internet portal in India, around the time the dotcom bubble was bursting.

Another reason banks outside Asia were slower to react to the fintech menace was their preoccupation with boosting capital ratios after the financial crisis, Gupta said. "It wasn't in their face, and the regulatory environment was a bit different," he said. Many U.S. and European banks "were occupied with fighting the last war, which is the war of Basel, and capital and liquidity and so on," and thus took longer to realize the threat from non-bank fintech firms.

DBS's digital ambitions have so far been good for the bank's investors. DBS shares have rallied for more than two years, turning it into Southeast Asia's most-valuable firm. The digital strategy has helped lower the bank's costs and boost its return on equity, projected to reach between 13 percent and 14 percent in the next five years.

Gupta's Caution

Another benefit: DBS's online banking is reeling in new customers. Last year, 80 percent of new small and medium-sized corporate clients in Singapore, and 37 percent of incoming wealth management customers, started their relationship digitally, DBS said in its 2017 annual report.

But Gupta is the first to admit that all his preparations may not be enough to resist the Chinese and other locally grown fintech players like Grab, a ride-hailing firm which boasted of 4 million users in Singapore when it launched an e-wallet in Singapore last year.

"I think it's very hard to call the future," Gupta said. Most companies would quote Mike Tyson, he added, on how everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face. "But you don't know where the punch in the face is going to come from."


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