Guest View: Adapting strategies to the changing FSI landscape in Asia Pacific

Lee Field, Head of IT Consulting, Asia-Pacific, Verizon Terremark

Social media is more powerful than ever. According to a recent Digital Insights survey[7], Facebook counts with 1.15 billion active users, out of whom "We Are Social" estimates 874 million are in Asia Pacific[8]. In Southeast Asia (Brunei, Singapore, and Hong Kong), the frequency of Facebook usage is beginning to slow down but is on the rise in promising markets such as China and India.

Speed and real time response continue to be key competitive factors for FSI organization and with the implementation of social media strategies, organizations can better understand and engage their customers.

The most common social media platform used by FSI organizations is possibly Twitter, to seek feedback on their services and provide timely updates when an outage occurs. Other strategies include using Facebook to promote the bank's initiatives such as sports sponsorship for banks like RBS and charity drives like JP Morgan Chase. The "always on" nature of social media indicates opportunities for FSI organizations to provide on-demand, personalized and real time services to customers. For the launch of its debit card, Thailand's Kasikorn Bank used Foursquare to encourage its customers to check in at participating reward retailers to receive special privileges.

This shift in the business landscape led by consumers and technology requires a strong, effective, and smart integration of business and IT from organizations. For these trends to translate into unique opportunities for FSI organizations, technology needs to seamlessly support the business in every aspect - from back-end integration to flexible processes, rules, and process customization for different channels.

Apart from enhancing the customer experience, social media is also redefining how banks are boosting transparency with customers. Consumers' increased mobility and accessibility to information signify that banks will need to be proactive in being transparent and provide secure banking services at their convenience.

2.       Achieving regulatory compliance

Regulation continues to be a major preoccupation for FSI organizations. This is particularly true in Asia-Pacific where the effects of changing regulatory frameworks, business models, and operations are impacting both domestic institutions and global banks with local presence. According to a recent KPMG report on banking regulations[9], Asia-Pacific FSI organizations experience a particular level of stress attributable directly to the different levels of maturity across the region regarding policy reform capabilities.

Adding to the challenge is the issue of changing data privacy laws. In recent years, the region has seen countries beefing up their data privacy regulations, including Australia, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea. Whether this stems from a protectionism standpoint or the increasing need for privacy, the fact remains that it has become more difficult and more expensive for FSIs to tick all the right boxes. In fact, a recent regional Chief Information Officer (CIO) roundtable by IDC and Verizon Enterprise Solutions highlighted the low awareness by CIOs on how the national laws around data privacy will impact their IT security organizations.[10] In fact, many organizations are at loss in both understanding new laws and enforcing them. 

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