One of the biggest (Islamic) banking groups in Malaysia has poached DBS Singapore’s head of digital banking to lead its fintech initiative, a significant step in the group’s efforts to develop and leverage fintech solutions in an increasingly competitive banking landscape.
Come June 2017 if regulators permit, Olivier Crespin — credited as the person who introduced India’s first paperless, signatureless and branchless mobile banking based on biometrics and artificial intelligence — will join CIMB Group as the chief fintech officer for its newly-minted dedicated fintech development hub.
Known as CIMB Fintech, the new unit joins a host of other banking innovation labs Malaysian banks (such as Maybank and Hong Leong Bank) have carved in recent years to stay ahead of the digital revolution; and is but one of the many initiatives the bank has taken to cement its space. It recently tied up with Jack Ma’s Ant Financial Services Group, the parent of Alipay, to introduce the Alipay mobile wallet in Malaysia; the bank is also attracting some of the country’s largest business groups (Genting Malaysia, Digi Telecommunications, YTL Corporation and Maxincome) to be the pioneer merchants for this service. And this will not be the end of CIMB’s fintech endeavor as Group CEO Zafrul Aziz confirmed that the bank is prepared to “invest significantly” in fintech propositions to add value and enhance the experience for its 12 million customers across the region.
“The conventional banking space is increasingly being disrupted and we will see the same disruption within the Islamic banking space as well,” Rafe Haneef, CEO of CIMB Islamic, shares with IFN Fintech. As at the end of 2016, CIMB Islamic amassed RM66.65 billion (US$15.33 billion) in assets and accounted for 14.6% of the group’s total financing. Focusing on moving the bank’s operations online, CIMB also launched its chatbot, CIMB Eva, which allows banking transactions to be conducted via chats. The Islamic bank has earmarked wealth management as a focus area for digitalization.
Not denying that there may be a change in the status quo, especially in the payments segment where more online transactions are being executed through fintech platforms rather than banks, Rafe takes it in stride: “While there are disruption[s], we see opportunities to work with fintech and embrace fintech positively.”