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The Bank of East Asia’s (BEA’s) China business is sharpening and enhancing its cross-border focus on customers’ financial services needs with a differentiated digital strategy.
There is no stopping the growing appetite for cross-border financial services in China, as more enterprises expand overseas, residents travel abroad and an increasing number of expatriates work and live in China.
To support these trends, however, many existing banking institutions fall short of meeting the evolving needs and preferences of customers. The functionality of products tends to be homogeneous and the range of digital options that focus on the user experience is limited.
This is where BEA looks to differentiate itself. As a result, its China cross-border customers can access a variety of products from deposits and loans, to investments, credit cards and other services through multiple online and mobile channels.
Solid foundations have already been laid; it was the first bank in China to support fully online transactions for the remuneration of foreign exchange (FX), plus it designed a WeChat mini-programme as part of the project to support prospective customers.
More recently, to target its international clients, Bank of East Asia (China) Co (East Asia China) has built a robust English version of its mobile banking app to offer tailor-made features and content.
Bringing old and new together
East Asia China’s digital journey to date reflects the mantra of transformation that fuels a spirit of innovation within the bank. This enables it to effectively digitise the product offering and enhance the customer experience.
It is a bold objective for a century-old bank originating from Hong Kong. Since becoming one of the earliest foreign-funded corporate banks approved to set up in Mainland China, and then opening in Shanghai in 1920, BEA’s China operations have steadily grown into what is now one of the most extensive branch networks of any foreign bank in the Mainland.
Bolstered by establishing East Asia China in 2007 as a wholly-owned, locally-incorporated banking subsidiary, its broad customer base includes local and foreign residents, as well as enterprises, across a mix of personal and corporate banking, wealth management and cyberbanking services.
In all these areas, the overarching goal is to optimise and deliver a high-quality digital user experience to customers.
Rewriting the digital roadmap
With its cross-border customers in mind, East Asia China has spearheaded the latest of its initiatives to deliver a digital-first mindset – via the BEA China Mobile Banking International Version. In short, it is an app designed for the needs of non-resident customers, aiming to provide the ultimate user experience.
Every user interface, function and interaction was refined through an iterative development process incorporating constant user research and feedback. The outcome is a new-look design which is simple yet advanced, including a pop-up dashboard for key transactions, a first for the Mainland China market.
Among its notable features, the app can service the typical financial needs of its intended users, such as cross-border remittances, FX settlement and sales, foreign currency deposits and Hong Kong express remittances.
A core part of this digital offering is “Remuneration FX”, an exclusive East Asia China service. Meanwhile, other innovations introduced by the app include mobile salary FX purchase services for foreigners working in the Mainland.
At the same time, the bank is continuing to harness the appointment-based, self-managed account opening service it launched last year. It targets eligible Hong Kong permanent residents, allowing them to open personal bank accounts at East Asia China’s Guangzhou, Shenzhen or Zhuhai branches without travelling to the Mainland in person.
In turn, these accounts can be linked to major Mainland mobile payment apps, offering customers more convenience when making purchases and payments in the Greater Bay Area (GBA).
Ultimately, East Asia China is adamant that greater levels of digitalisation will enable the bank to capitalise on the potential it sees from cross-border opportunities as the GBA advances financial interconnection, innovation and technology cooperation. East Asia China’s next step is pursuing its ambition to develop into a digital bank.