Going digital – an overview of the coolest fintechs and institutions

As the race to go digital accelerates, The Asset reveals the winners of this year’s Triple A Digital Awards, players who have demonstrated excellence in the digital sphere

The notion of fintech (financial technology companies) "eating the lunch" of their seemingly slower and generally larger incumbent bank or insurance rivals appears to be over. At least in the Asia-Pacific, collaboration rather than competition is considered the best way forward.

At The Asset's Triple A Digital Awards 2018, the board of editors is pleased to honour those fintech companies that have made a significant impact on the business processes of incumbent players. It is also a set of awards to recognize the incumbents that have embraced digital as the next step to better serve their client base.

The past 12 months have been an especially exciting period. Whether it is offering facial fraud risk analysis or simplifying the process of choosing insurance policies, fintechs such as PingAn One Connect and PolicyPal are leading a wave of new providers capturing a share of the fastest growth segments of the finance and investment industries.

This year's awards programme reviewed submissions from brokerage and insurance companies in a broadening of digital's application beyond the banks. In Hong Kong for instance, Futu Securities has used digital to empower retail investors to participate in some of the largest equity deals in Hong Kong such as Meituan's US$4.2 billion IPO last year. In Singapore, MSIG, a unit of Japan's Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co, through the use of robotics automation cut the time required for its employees to handle travel insurance claims.

When it comes to digital banking, Citi continues to outshine regional peers, as its laser-sharp focus on digital pays off in several markets. Especially of note is the bank's partnership with LINE in Thailand. In Hong Kong, its tie-up with HKTVmall integrated with Pay with Points appeals cleverly in an era populated by consumers who want instant access to products and services.

DBS in Singapore is the trailblazer among banks in Asia, internalizing digital as part of its DNA across its various offerings. In a departure from the others, DBS likes to focus on internal technological development rather than outsourcing. This policy is motivated by a desire to embed digital as the foundation of how DBS wants to serve clients and be perceived by rivals.

Perhaps because of Asian banks such as DBS, others in the region are similarly forging ahead with their digital journey. Taiwan's CTBC and UnionBank in the Philippines have become pioneers in their respective markets over the past 12 months, embracing the latest in technology such as blockchain and open banking APIs in lockstep with their global banking peers.

User experience, as with previous years, has become even more critical when it comes to the offerings of a digital financial process. Over the past 12 months, The Asset's board of editors, for example, saw the shift to beyond banking as banks start to link their offerings to the client's lifestyle from holiday planning to shopping.

In India for instance, State Bank of India launched its YONO app as a way to help customers not only manage their finances but also taxi bookings and medical bill payments. Bank of East Asia in Hong Kong, in a similar fashion, created its i-Planner application as a way to embed the bank within the travel planning process of its customers.

This year's range of digital project awardees include a number of common themes, overridingly how the power and potential of data allows financial institutions to execute a superior financial services provision. For example, Agricultural Bank of China enhanced its credit risk system to improve its assessment of new loans.

In Thailand, SCB Abacus developed an algorithm to make it easier for e-commerce active merchants to real-time qualify for financing. Aside from being able to offer new loans with ease, these data-based projects were also the backbone behind the newly launched chatbots in the market such as Hang Seng Bank's pair of chatbots that focus on retail and commercial banking, respectively.

To see the full list of winning fintechs and institutions of the Triple A Digital Awards 2018 please click here. To view the best digital procedures and initiatives across the region please click here. For the list of innovative digital projects please click here.

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