Digital Customer Experience Is Key Business Banking Priority This 2017

HSBC, as a leading player in the digitization of trade, has pinpointed the improvement of digital customer experience as a key tactical priority in its approach to global trade and receivables financing in 2017. The banking giant has outlined several strategic and tactical priorities when it comes to the digitization of global trade in an April 2017 webinar. Focus is these priorities are timed with the expected return to growth of the global trade industry as a whole after a short downturn in the past couple of years.

The Rise, Brief Fall, and Revival of Global Trade

Global trade and the business banking, capital management, receivables financing, and various other banking services associated with it have enjoyed nearly three decades of uninterrupted growth since the 1980s. The global financial crisis of the previous decade did not have an immediate impact, either.

Yet in 2015, trade value was seen to decline. Commodity prices drove the decline in trade value, although trade volumes did grow in 2015 and 2016. Today, the financial industry is expecting global trade to return to growth.

Factors such as the growth of the middle class in Asia as well as efforts in regional sectors such as the Saudi Vision 2030 and the Trade Facilitation Agreement negotiated by World Trade Organization members are spurring on development. The year 2017, it seems, is forecast to be the year that global trade revives from its relatively short slump to continue to grow again.

In the midst of all this, financial institutions such as HSBC are focusing on strategic priorities that leverage their strengths and create even better value for their clients.

Prioritizing Digital Experience

Among the key priorities that HSBC will be focusing on is the improvement of the digital experience for business banking clients. The bank offers various services related to global trade, including capital management, import and export finance, trade finance loans, export credit financing, and receivables financing.

An example project that focuses on this priority is the implementation of a self-serve, real-time, mobile platform for clients to track documents and trade transactions.

Concurrently, economic and financial high growth regions such as the Middle East are also taking strides toward becoming “digital economies.” In an October 2016 report by McKinsey and Company, the firm highlighted that not only is the region on the verge of massive digital disruption, but they are also well on their way to becoming a “leading digital economy.”

It’s no surprise. In PwC’s Middle East Megatrends issue, “technological breakthroughs” is one of the five megatrends driving change in the region, alongside:

  • Demographic and social change
  • Shift in global economic power
  • Rapid urbanization
  • Climate change and resource scarcity

According to PwC, several breakthroughs in the realm of technology will unavoidably drive transformation in the region. These technological breakthroughs are already catalysts for change in the region:

  • A digital content boom: 90% of the data currently existing was created in the past two years
  • GCC smartphone penetration: Peaking at 78% in the UAE
  • Online to offline transactions: 85% of transactions that begin online are closed offline
  • Decision-makers focusing on tech: 85% of Middle East CEOs agree that technological change is the most transformative megatrend globally in the next half decade

Tying It All Back to Digitized Global Trade

In the face of all these factors coming together, actionable priorities like HSBC’s move to improve digital experience for their global trade clients are sound strategic decisions for this year.

Not only will the move ride the wave of a predicted global banking growth trend, but it will also be bolstered by ongoing digitization of economies where financial institutions have significant investment roots.

The year 2017 is definitely set to be one of massive digital disruption across all industries — even more traditional ones that are typically slow to adjust to rapid change. Banks and financial institutions should indeed focus on strategic priorities that enable them to leverage global megatrends to their advantage while also delivering genuine value to their clients.