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Malaysia’s AmBank Group is remodelling its retail banking services with a digital boost, in a move that could give confidence to banks across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) region.
The financial services institution is using Software AG’s webMethods middleware platform to integrate its core banking applications with its on-premise applications.
“Transforming our core banking system was critical to achieve the agility, flexibility and long-term growth of the bank,” said Charles Tan, CIO at AmBank Group.
AmBank could be seen as an Asean pioneer because the financial services sector in Southeast Asia is quite diverse in terms of maturity and readiness to adopt modern-age digital services, according to Craig Davis, head of financial services Asean at professional services firm KPMG.
Although Singapore is an obvious leader, Davis said most banks and insurers across the rest of the region still struggle to understand what “digital” truly means to the industry.
“For instance, does digital just mean having a website, offering access to online banking or having mobile banking apps – all acting as channels? Or does it mean fully integrated, end-to-end operations that do not involve any physical human contact?”
Davis said, as a whole, the financial services sector in Southeast Asia is trying to understand what the term means to their businesses.
“I don’t think [lack of digital adoption] is for the lack of ideas, but rather the will to act now and the skills required to implement a transformation,” he said.
Judging by the volume of manual processes and transactions, legacy IT architectures and reliance on traditional venues of acquiring and serving clients, Davis said the challenges are vast and the required investments considerable.
However, Davis has seen a growing number of institutions that have emerged as pioneering leaders which have both the will to act and the ability to dedicate resources.
“This certainly serves as an inspiration for the rest to follow. People will become more confident to take action once they see a few examples of someone else doing it first,” he said.
There is no shortage of new technologies that financial institutions can adopt, said Davis, and they can range from cloud-based data and communication management systems to block-chain inspired instant payments and digital biometric capture and processing.