RETAIL BANKING | Roxanne Uy, Indonesia

OCBC NISP's retail business director Thomas Low reveals his digital strategies and growth targets

Low aims for 20-30% growth with the bank's new digital capabilities.

Thomas Low is the director of OCBC NISP’s retail business since 2013. He joined the bank in 2010 and previously worked as its national emerging business head before taking on his current role.

Low also worked in OCBC Bank as VP business head of emerging business (2004-2010).

In this exclusive interview with Asian Banking and Finance, Low gives us his take on the latest trends in Indonesia’s retail banking industry. He also shares the impact of digitalisation on the sector, and the strategies they implement to respond to the changing market landscape.

ABF: How has the push for digitalisation affected the retail banking industry in Indonesia?
Digital transformation is having a great impact on every aspect of the way we live and work. Big data, social media, and developments in mobile technology have already hugely altered the landscape of the banking industry, especially the retail banking. In many ways, retail banking in Indonesia has already become a digital business, stimulated by the rapid spread of broadband access and affordable smart mobile devices.

As the economy continues to prosper, Indonesia’s promising projected growth is anticipated to further boost the development of digital banking. Additionally, the rapid rise of mobile phone usage, especially among the unbanked citizens, is threatening to replace the traditional brick-and-mortar channels with mobile-centric banking.

Many Indonesian banks have focussed their digital investments on enabling customers to access information on bank websites or to do simple transactions through online or mobile channels, thereby moving customers away from branch transactions.

Additionally, banking regulatory bodies in Indonesia (i.e. Bank Indonesia and Otoritas Jasa Keuangan- Financial Service Authority) are in the midst of establishing a financial ecosystem that is cashless and interconnected. Therefore, we need to maintain high flexibility and develop faster ability to execute these changes to remain relevant.

ABF: How unique is Indonesia as a market in terms of digital banking and how ready is the market to adapt to banks’ digital transformation?
For Indonesia itself, digitalisation is the next big thing, combining existing mobile phone usage in the country and the country’s increasing appetite for financial services. The prospective entry of millions of unbanked and under banked consumers into the financial system is the result of the increasing prevalence of mobile devices.

Additionally, digitalisation should extend its reach beyond major city centres in Indonesia and into the provincial neighbourhood, where the majority of unbanked and under banked consumers reside.

In Indonesia, an estimated 110 million bankable unbanked citizens allow digitalisation to offer opportunities to access banking services and products. With the increasing mobile phone usage, Internet penetration in Indonesia is expected to grow rapidly and reach 100 million users quickly. These developments will present enormous prospects for those who can harness the right solutions to serve them.

ABF: What is your digital strategy around wealth management for this year?
This digital strategy is being driven in part by changes among Wealth Management customers’ behaviours and life style. More customers are active users of social media and view it as an important channel to communicate. Customers’ preferences for how they handle investment decisions are also changing. They are increasingly willing to make some investment decisions themselves and even to share ideas online through social media platforms.

We have to continue providing our customers with a comprehensive set of services that best cater their needs in this digitally-driven and fast-paced world. Wealth Management customers are seeking greater transparency from their financial institutions, particularly about regulatory requirements and compliance. They want the full range of seamless support in multiple channels.

In 2017, we are providing our customers the ability to do seamless transactions within multiple touch points. They are able to choose between face-to-face meetings but also convenient, hassle-free online solutions that feature better account and transaction information on various devices. For example, One Wealth Application allows them to access real-time market situation and at the same time, provide online transaction capabilities and comprehensive view of their assets.

We aim to grow 20 – 30% with all these new capabilities.

ABF: How are you using digital to cater to your customers’ evolving needs?
We are continually upgrading our products and services towards a more branchless, convenience-on-the-move way of banking by migrating the functions of a physical branch into a more digital one. Not only is this beneficial to our Customers who need banking services on the go, but it is also an efficient way to reduce the Bank’s operational costs. It is common knowledge that people are less inclined nowadays to visit a bank’s branch due to the changing lifestyle.

One example is by providing them the ability to open a time-deposit account online through our Internet Banking, without them having to visit an actual branch. This way, Customers’ wealth management can be done on the fly.

Another example would be on the recently released feature which is the card less withdrawal that allows our Customers to withdraw cash from our ATMs without the need to use their debit / ATM cards, thereby easing them to withdraw cash in case they have forgotten to bring their card or for 3rd party cash withdrawal, such as by their children, drivers, house assistants, et cetera.

More examples, would include our white-labelling collaboration with other banks and Telco companies, our virtual debit card capability, our online rewards redemption feature, and our continuous improvements in OCBC NISP Internet Banking, Mobile Banking and SMS Banking, designs and features to keep up and stay ahead with the current trend in the market.

ABF: What do you consider your biggest achievement so far as OCBC NISP's retail business director?
Our retail business is a newly formed group, combining the SME and consumer banking businesses. This initiative is part of our 2020 Vision. We believe that by combining these two groups, we would be able to provide comprehensive solutions not only for our clients' businesses but also for their individual needs, thus giving us a competitive edge not only from a solution perspective but also in terms of pricing competitiveness.

We also launched a new employee value proposition, “We See You.” Our employees are our biggest assets so developing people is always in my heart. Ensuringthat our people are ready to deliver the 2020 vision and preparing them for future leadership and challenges are my biggest achievement in leading transformation in Retail Banking Business.

ABF: What three goals are you focused on for this year?

  • Create a customer-focussed mindset.
  • Focus on collaboration & synergy to build new capabilities to better serve customers.
  • Integrate customer touch points. This is clearly unique to Bank OCBC NISP where Professionalism, Integrity and Care of Customers is embedded in every step and process.

ABF: What are your key business philosophies?
I believe in the importance of always adding value and serving customers with integrity in good times and bad times.

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