Insights from Google and Facebook at the Future of Digital Banking, Asia Pacific – Hosted by MarketForce


“The Future of Digital Banking: Asia-Pacific” was hosted by Marketforce on March 21 and 22, 2017 in Singapore. The conference managed to bring together an interesting set of C-suite, senior bankers, industry experts, tech companies and the startup community.

Bankers that presented during the conference not only included Singapore banks like DBS and UOB but others such as ANZ, HengFeng, HSBC, Garanti, Krungsri Bank and the Co-Operative Bank. Startups included Instarem, StashAway, Moxtra, Timo, Dianrong, Kashmi, Onelyst, Coinpip, UangTeman and Dynatrace. The conference also had speakers from Celent, PwC, Forester, Misys, Prudential, Google, Facebook, SAP, Comarch, Visa, Mastercard, IIA Indonesia and R3.

The two-day event provided a platform to share the most exciting developments in banking and how it would affect the future for banks, FinTechs and customers. FinTech accelerators in Singapore like FinLab and Startupbootcamp also spoke about how banks can look outside of themselves and partner with FinTechs to combine expertise for the customer. During the conference, tech giants like Google and Facebook shared insights and trends about consumer behavior and how the financial industry can benefit from them. In this article, we have highlighted a few of those findings from Google and Facebook.

Google was represented by Katherine Unson who leads Consumer Insights & Business Strategy in Financial Services for APAC. She shared Google’s latest insights from an upcoming report. “Think with Google” provides tools and research that can be used by companies and industries to step in with Google data before products or marketing campaigns are designed. Understand this further by reading this social-wave article. Findings from the report suggest that financial services are under-indexing the total industry in terms of searches on mobile. Travel, CPG, other industries have about 50–60% search traffic on mobile compared to 30% in financial services. The low mobile search traffic results could be attributed to a circular problem of banks not wanting to fix their mobile experience leading to fewer people searching for financial products using smartphones while the other more behavioral challenge could be consumers feeling uncomfortable putting their information on a less serious device like a mobile

Katherine shared how Singaporeans are searching for financial products on Google. A trend that is seen in Singapore is around consumers already searching for brands they know against searching for a category (Standard Chartered Credit Card vs. “Credit Card”). Two out of three consumers already have a brand in mind when they go online and this can be attributed to the fact that consumers have already seen a billboard, print ad, flyer or a physical bank because of the small proximity of the city. In terms of the categories within financial services that lead the demand or the intent to buy:

  • General banking is the biggest with online banking as the major chunk. Local banks have the largest volume with DBS as number one followed by OCBC and UOB. OCBC and UOB have a high probability of being searched in the same session as DBS indicating that they are in the same consideration set for Singaporeans. POSB, on the other hand, has a very distinct value proposition and so is typically not searched in the same session.
  • International banks have a smaller volume and strive to get their own value proposition within the market. Interestingly, Standard Chartered is a bit overlapping with the local banks because they launched a specific campaign last year that focused on deposit and savings which are the key factors of three local banks (DBS, OCBC and UOB).
  • For general banking, like online banking or branch banking, the subcategory that grew the last year was wealth management. The reason for this is the huge push by the Singapore government and the startup ecosystem last year that involved a rise in business loans, asset management and other areas related to wealth management.
  • The biggest consumer product identified from the Google search data was credit cards with miles based benefits being the most sought after rewards. On analyzing the top searches for credit cards and the need for it, travel is at the highest at 42%.
  • In terms of loans and lending, business loans were seen to grow the fastest. The biggest category is home loans but it was the slowest growing.
  • Insurance is quite interesting because it has a lot to do with the barrier to online entry along with the fact that life insurance, health insurance and related products are quite complicated. Travel insurance is first, followed by auto insurance and life insurance.
  • Travel insurance is interesting because of its low barrier to entry to having a full online experience. Travel insurance is bundled up with sites like Expedia, etc. and also provided by airlines and hotels. Therefore, various channels are available for purchasing travel insurance with good online fulfillment along with the most demand for it. Three out of four Singaporeans have a brand in mind for travel insurance.
  • For wealth management, Singapore comes second for all the investment related searches in key financial hubs with Hong Kong at the top of the list. Tokyo is at the third position, New York at forth and London at fifth. Mobile is playing a really interesting role as an auxiliary wealth advisor and driving this behavior as a research and updating device. While for other products such as loans or life insurance, there is a gap in the fulfillment of actually buying or securing using the mobile device.

Katherine mentioned that with the abundance of consumer insights that are now available, bankers can follow an inside-out approach while designing experiences and look at customers from a holistic point of view. People are not looking for banks or financial products but rather for a way to reach their life goals like building a house or educating their kids.

Rowan Spinks, Client Partner in Financial Services in SE Asia for Facebook spoke about the five key consumer trends that are happening across all industries and how they also apply to financial services:

  • Mobile-First: About 90% of actual consumption of Facebook in most markets is mobile-first. In Singapore, 65% of Facebook consumers are mobile only. Mobile is offering new opportunities for businesses since it on throughout the day and consumers today have far more media moments than ever before.
  • Personalization: Three-quarters of consumers are expecting personalization from products and brands. Over three-quarters of banking and insurance consumers say that these kinds of promotions encourage them to buy. About 71% of consumers prefer ads that are tailored to their needs and 90% of business leaders think that customization and personalization are the keys to having a competitive edge.
  • Video Is Exploding: This is happening as devices are getting some sophisticated. Mobile users are 1.5 times more likely to watch a video as compared to desktop users and they will spend five times longer with video content than with static content.
  • Instant Experiences: Consumers are demanding instant experiences and if a site or content takes more than four seconds to load, half of the people will leave and on mobile, this time is even less.
  • Multichannel: The consumer journey today is multichannel. Within banking, two-thirds of the customers are multichannel. About 60% of financial interactions have started on mobile and 56% of those move to a computer since people have to fill lengthy forms and upload documents, etc., in the financial industry and so, the common behavior is to head back to a PC. Due to this behavior, it is hard to understand the impact of mobile on the consumer journey.

As per Rowan, these trends are leading to transformational business change. Facebook provides several tools such as Custom Audience, Instant Articles, Canvas and others that businesses can use to create better experiences for their customers. Therefore, we see that financial institutions can harness consumer data to better know their customers and engage with them.