By Umair Hameed, Financial Services Sales Lead, Microsoft Singapore
We are at the forefront of technological innovation, which has been further accelerated by the COVID‑19 pandemic. Fundamental disruption arising from decentralized data networks, artificial intelligence, and edge computing has created a Web 3.0 era, presenting the next wave of the internet. This change has shaped business models and presented new opportunities for building a sustainable, resilient, and digitally inclusive future.
Singapore’s tenacity for technological transformation presents a multitude of opportunities for financial institutions to innovate and ramp up their digital agendas to remain relevant and achieve sustainable growth locally and regionally. An increasing number of financial institutions are tapping into cloud technologies and services to execute their digital transformation programs and instill a stronger culture of innovation as they reimagine the future of financial services.
However, this highly regulated industry with its robust regulatory requirements entailing outsourced technology use, risk management, and governance, may present its own set of challenges. Financial institutions cannot achieve all these on their own. They need trusted partners that can provide technologies, products, and solutions that also adhere to privacy, security, and compliance obligations.
As a trusted ally to the nation, Microsoft is committed to being a trusted strategic partner in building a resilient and digitally inclusive Singapore.
Here are three takeaways from the Singapore Fintech Festival 2021 that the financial services industry, ecosystem, and partners must consider as they leverage tech capabilities and innovate to enhance customer engagement, drive security and compliance, and foster open innovation for the next wave of progress.
Enhancing Customer Engagement
The pandemic has changed customer behaviors and expectations. Financial institutions now need to re‑think their client engagement and take it to levels that are at par, if not exceeding, those set by non‑financial institutions in other sectors including e-commerce and ride-hailing. To successfully compete means investing in new business models, products, and solutions that are built around customer needs and create long-term loyalty.
In 2020, Standard Chartered Bank embarked on a three-year strategic partnership with Microsoft to accelerate their digital transformation through a cloud-first mindset. By leveraging Microsoft Azure, Standard Chartered Bank was successful in meeting the demand for seamless banking virtually anytime and anywhere, making banking more accessible to people across its network.
Our partnership with HolyWally, a white-label digital wallet solution built on Microsoft Azure, has democratized the ability of its customers, including EastWest Bank in the Philippines, the first tap-to-pay wallet in the country, to create digital wallets with more services and greater control over data. This collaboration has accelerated HolyWally’s growth in the FinTech space and provided the business greater access to products, sales, and technical support, and co-selling opportunities.
Alpha Fintech has made merchant acquiring easier for banks, payment gateways, and acquirers like Grab, by integrating the entire payment lifecycle solution provider ecosystem all on the Azure platform. Users can now onboard merchants quicker, sell more products via tailored solutions for each vertical, monetize new data intelligence – all while benefiting from massive IT savings. Alpha Fintech’s partnership with Microsoft to develop this one-stop solution has enabled acquirers to compete with digital unicorns quickly and easily.
Driving Security and Compliance
Financial institutions that know how to manage their regulatory and compliance data will be on an accelerated path to stronger risk management and improved operational efficiency. Ensuring that financial services operate within appropriate compliance constructs is key to maintaining their application security posture.
Chainstack, a blockchain service platform that graduated from Microsoft Azure’s Startup program in 2020, works closely with Microsoft to provide developers and independent software vendors with the Application Programming Interface (API) to build, run, and scale blockchain applications. Chainstack has successfully delivered complete solutions for partners like bloXroute Labs, HOPR, and the hugely popular Polygon Network, by leveraging Microsoft Azure to provide enterprise-grade blockchain infrastructure and network gateways that are extremely secure and dependable.
Our collaboration with letsbloom, a venture by SC Ventures, the innovation, fintech investment and ventures arm of Standard Charted Bank, has allowed them to streamline security and compliance cloud processes for organizations operating in highly regulated industries. Organizations in financial services, healthcare, and the government can now securely build, deploy, and run business applications on the cloud quickly and cost-efficiently with letsbloom Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and letsbloom Marketplace.
Fostering an Environment for Open Platforms
We are also seeing the shift towards open and interconnected ecosystems through the modernization of core platforms including payments and banking systems. With open banking becoming a reality in many markets, including Singapore, there is an urgent need for financial institutions to develop, test, and validate value propositions faster and more effectively to foster innovation, as well as to enhance customer service.
By working with Accenture and Avanade we have created a unique API management accelerator that is hosted on Microsoft Azure. This accelerator enables financial services firms to fast-track innovation with open APIs and provides them with the ability to market-test value propositions and engage with partners in a marketplace model.
We have also collaborated with industry partners to develop a Common Data Model to provide consistent metadata definitions for common banking and financial industry data elements, including loans and mortgages, to simplify application development and data integration. This unified data model allows partners and customers to share data more easily across applications and business processes as they build interoperable open banking solutions.
Enabling a sustainable future
Asia accounts for about half of the global greenhouse gas emissions. As a leading technology and innovation hub, Singapore is well-positioned to support Asia’s journey towards sustainability. Ravi Menon, Managing Director, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) highlighted several initiatives that will help drive this change, namely the Asian Carbon Credit Market, Green Finance Action Plan, and Green FinTech. The transition to a low carbon future will require fundamental changes to be made and technology presents solutions to do that and advance the sustainability agenda.
Microsoft is committed to helping financial organizations nurture a sustainable planet for all. The recent Microsoft Ignite 2021 conference announced the availability of Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services, introducing new capabilities that unlock the power of Microsoft Cloud to help financial institutions innovate for responsible and sustainable growth.
Our capabilities allow us to deliver innovative tech products and solutions that help our partners and customers in the financial services industry achieve better business outcomes. By building a robust culture of resilience and digital inclusivity locally, we empower every person and organization in Singapore to achieve more.
Learn more about our ongoing work in the financial services industry via our Microsoft Cloud here.