FEBRUARY 2018 ISSUE
THE ASIAN BANKING MONITOR w www.rfigroup.com t twitter.com/RFiMediaGRB
GETTING READY FOR THE NEW YEAR RFi INSIGHT 04
ECONOMIC & REGULATORY
08 Thai government revises loan regulation standard
12 Siam Commercial Bank signs agreement with Prudential
Bitcoin banned in Indonesia
Welcome to the February 2018 edition of the Asian Banking Monitor – a newsletter designed to give you a quick update on news and trends within the Asian banking market. We cover movements in all areas of the market – economics and regulatory, retail banking, priority and private banking, and technology. In the February edition, we assess the fallout of Ant Financial’s failed acquisition of MoneyGram following domestic political compulsions and straining US-China ties. In regulatory developments, the Thai government has recently updated its regulation on loans, conforming to the International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) Version 9, which requires lenders to have an enhanced asset base and earlier acknowledgment of credit losses. The focus of our Group insights this month examines the year in review for a range of asset classes across Asian markets in 2017. Bitcoin drew considerable attention due to its strong performance, while equities continued to attract significant flows
from investors. Fundamentally, investment sentiment has registered an upward trend YoY but it remains to be seen whether asset performance for 2018 will meet the risk adjusted return requirements of yield-hungry Asian investors. Finally, on the technology front, Bank Indonesia officially banned all bitcoin based transactions on the archipelago to prevent the use of the crypto currency for money laundering and terrorism financing purposes. From an insurance perspective, Manulife Hong Kong announced the launch of its online platform claimsimple.hk to facilitate customer submission of medical and other insurance related claims in the city-state. Kind regards,
Mobasher Zein Kazmi Editor/Research Director – Asia email@example.com D +65 6597 7027 I M +65 9035 6307
CONTENTS FEBRUARY 2018
04 RFi GROUP INSIGHT Getting ready for the new year
08 ECONOMIC & REGULATORY Thai government revises loan regulation standard
Siam Commercial Bank signs agreement with Prudential
Bitcoin banned in Indonesia
PRIORITY & PRIVATE BANKING
Singapore Life insurance acquired Zurich Life business in Asia
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RFi GROUP INSIGHT
GETTING READY FOR THE NEW YEAR WORDS ANDREW KIM – RESEARCH DIRECTOR
s we look back at 2017, it was quite the bull year as both traditional and new age assets provided healthy returns to investors across the world. Asia was no exception, as shares, property, and digital assets appreciated throughout the year. The cryptocurrency space drew global headlines with governments’ efforts to curb the speculative nature of trading, a part of many investors’ barbell strategy. Equities, the most commonly held asset across Asia took the front seat in providing a gateway to blue chips contributing to most of the major indices across Asia making noticeable gains over the year. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished up 36% for the year, driven by Tencent’s performance as it briefly eclipsed Facebook’s valuation in November. Despite geopolitical tensions between North Korea and Trump’s administration, South Korea’s Kospi index also charged ahead and was up 22% for the year, as its exports
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benefited from the global economic recovery. Vietnam’s 47% surge tops the emerging Asian countries, as we saw some major brands such as Petrolimex, Vietnam Airlines, Vincom Retail, and VPBank make their debut with their initial public offerings. When we look at property prices, Bank of Thailand have made a warning on Thailand’s property bubble which has seen many Asian, especially mainland Chinese investors buying up property in search of capital gains and rental yields. Vietnam has seen property prices increase in the mid to high end apartments as it saw 68,000 successful transactions, which is a significant increase from 2016. In the Philippines, we’ve seen strong investment inflows that have trickled to the real estate market as property prices have increased, especially for the luxury sector and many expect a stronger 2018 with infrastructure improvements.
RFi GROUP INSIGHT
Despite geopolitical tensions between North Korea and Trump’s administration, South Korea’s Kospi index also charged ahead and was up 22% for the year, as its exports benefited from the global economic recovery.
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RFi GROUP INSIGHT
PERCENTAGE POINT CHANGE BETWEEN 2016 AND 2017 IN INVESTMENT SENTIMENT INDEX 12 10 8
Malaysia Philippines Singapore
Source: RFi Group – Priority & Retail Banking Council (H1 2016 to H2 2017)
Lastly, we saw the explosion of cryptocurrencies as unprecedented gains were made in the price of bitcoin, now a household name across many countries in Asia. South Korea became the second largest market for cryptocurrency trading drawing popularity among housewives and students which led to regulations clamping down on trading by minors and foreigners. Recently published data from the South Korean Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) showed banks earned 36 times more income from facilitating cryptocurrency trade than in the previous year. Indonesia’s central bank also issued warnings, leading to a blanket ban, on cryptocurrency investments due to the speculative nature as investors have seen the price of bitcoin multiply 16-fold over the course of the year. With a surge in the valuation of multiple asset classes across Asia, it is no wonder that investment sentiment has improved greatly over the last 12 months. Led by Hong Kong, RFi Group data shows that the percentage change of its investment sentiment index has increased in all the countries in its study scope, with the investment sentiment measured as the net difference between the percentage of consumers looking to invest more and those looking to invest less in the coming 12 months. With consumers’ increasing wealth, there will undoubtedly be a huge opportunity for banks to profit from the facilitation of investments. Though it may be difficult to reproduce the results of 2017, there will be a flow on effect into 2018 and banks need to be ready to be the provider of choice for transactional and wealth banking for the increasingly affluent in Asia.
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In the Philippines, we’ve seen strong investment inflows that have trickled to the real estate market as property prices have increased, especially for the luxury sector and many expect a stronger 2018 with infrastructure improvements.
RFi GROUP INSIGHT
LED BY HONG KONG, RFI GROUP DATA SHOWS THAT THE PERCENTAGE CHANGE OF ITS INVESTMENT SENTIMENT INDEX HAS INCREASED IN ALL THE COUNTRIES IN ITS STUDY SCOPE, WITH THE INVESTMENT SENTIMENT MEASURED AS THE NET DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE PERCENTAGE OF CONSUMERS LOOKING TO INVEST MORE AND THOSE LOOKING TO INVEST LESS IN THE COMING 12 MONTHS.
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ECONOMIC & REGULATORY
Economic & Regulatory Thai government revises loan regulation standard WORDS GRACE CHRISTIANTY
he Thai government has recently updated its regulation on loans, conforming to the International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) Version 9, which requires lenders to have larger assets and earlier notification of credit losses. Importantly, instead of recognising losses when bad loans have already been incurred, banks will be required to provide information on the expected loss on non-performing loans. According to this standard, loan status will be classified into three stages: performing loan (stage 1), underperforming loan (stage 2) and non-performing loan (stage 3). Stage 1 status will be determined based on 12-months expected credit loss while Stage 2 and Stage 3 status will be based on total estimated loss. This new regulation was announced in mid2017 and will be effective starting 1st January 2018. To comply with this regulation, Thai banks started to increase their provision to cover credit losses commencing in the third quarter of last year. Subsequently, banks expect lower revenue from the loan sector in 2018, due to tighter regulations as well as increased funding costs to cover losses from non-performing loan activity.
NET CHANGE OVER THE NEXT 12 MONTHS Trended The amount you borrow
Subsequently, banks expect lower revenue from the loan sector in 2018, due to tighter regulations as well as increased funding costs to cover losses from non-performing loan activity.
According to RFi Group data, interest in taking up new loans has been steady in the past 18 months, with around 6 in 10 banked customers planning to reduce the amount to borrow. The new regulation will likely keep the appetite to borrow relatively stable.
Source: RFi Group â€“ Thailand Retail Banking Council (H2 2017)
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ECONOMIC & REGULATORY
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ECONOMIC & REGULATORY
Government to ease international trading restrictions WORDS GRACE CHRISTIANTY Overseas companies which do not have a physical presence in Vietnam will now be allowed to engage in trading with local entities, according to agreements that the Vietnamese government signed in late 2017. This trading policy change long awaited by the business community, was taken following Vietnamâ€™s strategic plan to better integrate with the global economy by increasing its share of world trade. The new policy also regulates issues such as dumping, subsidies, and safety regulation, which often cause trade disputes, allowing foreign trade to become easier and more transparent. According to RFi Group data, around 9 in 10 companies in Vietnam with annual turnover between USD 50 million to USD 500 million are engaging in international trade (source: RFi Group - Vietnam Commercial Banking Council, H2 2016). It is not surprising that the new policy was welcomed and expected to set a positive business environment through production growth and increased business activities in the country.
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This trading policy change long awaited by the business community, was taken following Vietnamâ€™s strategic plan to better integrate with the global economy by increasing its share of world trade.
ECONOMIC & REGULATORY
Indonesia government’s fund aid for SMEs WORDS GRACE CHRISTIANTY To grow the micro and small business in the country, Indonesia’s Office of Coordinating Economic Minister has budgeted IDR 12 trillion (USD 8.4 billion) this year to support micro credit programs for micro and small business (SME) in the country. This budget was higher than the initial USD 8 billion allocated last year. In addition, the government will reduce the interest rate on loans taken by these micro and small businesses from 9% in 2017 to 7% in 2018. Together with this stimulus, the government expects demands on loans to grow, which will further boost the number of micro and SMEs in the country as well as expand their business size. The Indonesian government will cooperate with local banks and other financial institutions to distribute loans to micro and small businesses across the country. According to RFi Group data, borrowing products is one on the top three products that SMEs in Indonesia intend to apply for in the next 12 months. With government support now being available, it is likely that there will be an increase in uptake of borrowing products among SMEs in Indonesia. WHAT PRODUCTS DOES YOUR BUSINESS INTEND TO TAKE UP IN THE NEXT 12 MONTHS? By main domestic bank Business operating accounts
Trade related products
Payroll/ Employee services
Investment/ Wealth products
Source: RFi Group – Indonesia SME Banking Council (H2 2017)
Together with this stimulus, the government expects demands on loans to grow, which will further boost the number of micro and SMEs in the country as well as expand their business size.
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Retail Banking Siam Commercial Bank signs agreement with Prudential WORDS GRACE CHRISTIANTY
arlier this month, Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) has signed an agreement with Prudential Life Insurance, a UK-based insurance group. The agreement aims to reach the affluent banked customers in Thailand especially those who are banking with SCB - Thailandâ€™s second largest bank by assets. This partnership will allow SCB to diversify its product offerings while enable Prudential to tap into additional markets in Asia. Prudential foresees Thailand as one of the key markets for insurance products given the lower penetration of the product in the market and considering the rising affluency in the market, which enables people to afford insurance.
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SCB welcomes this collaboration and sees this agreement as an opportunity to attract more customers by offering investment-linked insurance. According to RFi Group data from H2 2017, around one in ten (13%) of banked customers in Thailand are planning to take up life insurance in the next 12 months. Among those who intend to take up this product, nearly half of them (47%) sit within the affluent segment with investable assets of THB 3 million and above. SCBâ€™s partnership with Prudential will address this unmet need in the market especially among the affluent segment.
South Korean banks to downsize workforce WORDS GRACE CHRISTIANTY Banks in South Korea have been downsizing staff, embarking on digital transformation of its services through automation and online services. Shinhan Bank, a leading Korean bank, has offered voluntary retirement since 2017 and has been able to shed nearly 300 jobs since announcement of the program. The bank is planning to further downsize its staff by maintaining the voluntary retirement program and offering severance pay between 8 to 36 monthsâ€™ salary based on year of services. Other big banks such as KB Kookmin Bank, KEB Hana bank and NH Nonghyup Bank had taken similar steps by introducing their own voluntary retirement programs. Banks in the country have been facing difficulty in operating branches due to increasing operating costs as well as tighter competition from internet-only banks, which offer online banking products and service with higher interest rates offered on savings. According to RFi Group data, there has been stronger acceptance of internet-only banks. Around 4 in 10 banked customers in South Korea considered switching their main bank to an internet-only bank. The rising popularity of digital products and services offered by banks will likely reduce the need of human resources even further.
WILL YOU EVER CONSIDER AN INTERNET-ONLY BANK TO BE YOUR MAIN BANK? By total % Yes % Who are already banking with internet-only bank 50% 40%
30% 20% 10% 0%
Source: RFi Group â€“ South Korea Retail Banking Council (H2 2017)
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SBI bank to cut interest rate on loans WORDS GRACE CHRISTIANTY State Bank of India (SBI), the government-owned largest bank by assets has lowered its interest rate on loans by 0.3% early this month. The lending rate cut was taken to comply with the Reserve Bank of Indiaâ€™s requirement on transparency in bank calculation of loan base rate and marginal cost of lending rate (MCLR). The Reserve Bank has introduced a methodology to set up lending rates for commercial banks back in 2015. According to the guideline, banks must first calculate their internal marginal cost of funds based on lending (MCLR) which will be the internal benchmark lending rate. Subsequently, the interest rate for different types of customers will be determined on top of this benchmark along with their risk portfolio. However, the central bank observed that its reduction in the loan rate was not transformed into lower MCLR by banks, leaving the end customer still paying the original interest rate. SBI as a publicsector bank took the first step to comply with this regulation by lowering its lending rate.
According to the guideline, banks must first calculate their internal marginal cost of funds based on lending (MCLR) which will be the internal benchmark lending rate. According to RFi Group data from India Commercial Banking Council (H2 2017), nearly six in ten corporates (59%) with annual turnover of USD 10 million and above are planning to take up loan products in the next six months. Within this group, working capital finance is the product most likely to be applied (28%). With the new loan rate taking place, it is likely that the number of corporate loans take up will increase.
According to RFi Group data from India Commercial Banking Council (H2 2017), nearly six in ten corporates (59%) with annual turnover of USD 10 million and above are planning to take up loan products in the next six months.
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Ant Financial called off its acquisition of US’ MoneyGram WORDS GRACE CHRISTIANTY Despite China’s Ant Financial earlier plan to acquire United States’ (US) MoneyGram in April 2017, both parties finally called off the proposed acquisition early this year. Political tensions with US-China relations has forced the US to tighten its oversight of Chinese backed investments and other cross-border transactions. The acquisition would have enabled Ant Financial to expand its business overseas by acquiring MoneyGram which has strong market presence in the US. This annulment has cost Ant Financial USD 30 million in termination fees while dragging down MoneyGram’s share price by nearly 9%. Interestingly, outside of direct ownership both parties are still keen to collaborate and are looking for other ways to cooperate especially through other commercial agreements within the overseas remittance and digital payments space in Asia and the US. According to RFi Group data from China Retail Banking Council H1 2017, around one in five (19%) banked customers in China had sent or received fund internationally in the past 12 months. Among this group, over one-third of them (37%) used remittance services instead of banks. Although the proposed merger was cancelled, Ant Financial and MoneyGram are well positioned to service this need.
According to RFi Group data from China Retail Banking Council H1 2017, around one in five (19%) banked customers in China had sent or received fund internationally in the past 12 months.
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The institution has further teamed up with the National Police to end transactions using the digital coin in Bali, a place popular for overseas tourists to visit.
Technology Bitcoin banned in Indonesia WORDS GRACE CHRISTIANTY
ndonesiaâ€™ central bank (Bank Indonesia) has officially banned bitcoin transactions in the country, which means activities related to owning, selling, and trading the digital currency as deemed to be illegal. The institution has further teamed up with the National Police to end transactions using the digital coin in Bali, a place popular for overseas tourists to visit. This action was taken to prevent money laundering and terrorism fund in a country where terrorisms attacks are often incurred. In a similar step, Chinese regulators acted in September
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last year by announcing that Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) are not considered to be a legal fund-raising activity while Singapore authorities warned caution against investment in cryptocurrencies and Bank Negara Malaysia is in the process of regulating usage of this currency. According to RFi Group data, less than 5% of the banked population across Asia have used bitcoin in the past year. With the restrictions are being implemented by local authorities in Asia, the usage incidence will likely remain low in the future.
According to RFi Group data, less than 5% of the banked population across Asia have used bitcoin in the past year. With the restrictions are being implemented by local authorities in Asia, the usage incidence will likely remain low in the future.
PERCENTAGE OF RESPECTIVE BANKED POPULATIONS WHO HAVE USED BITCOIN IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS 15% 10% 5%
5% 2% <1%
Source: RFi Group â€“ Payment Council (H1 2017)
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The availability of chatbots will certainly minimize the need for customers with inquiries to contact the call centre. 18 TABM - RFi MEDIA
Banks in Hong Kong are introducing chatbots WORDS GRACE CHRISTIANTY Big banks in Hong Kong have been introducing chatbots to help answering its customers’ queries. The chatbot, which is a machine operated, using artificial intelligence, has been programmed to understand human language and answer customers’ queries through chatting. Banks such as HSBC have gone the extra mile by adding a human touch and named its chatbot as Amy, while Hang Seng named its chatbot as HARO that addresses general questions related to banking products and DORI, which addresses questions on credit card offerings. Banks in Hong Kong have been heavily investing in digital services to cut down operating costs as well as provide quicker responses to its customers.
The chatbot, which is a machine operated, using artificial intelligence, has been programmed to understand human language and answer customers’ queries through chatting.
According to RFi Group, in the past six months there has been an increase in reaching the bank through the call centre. The availability of chatbots will certainly minimize the need for customers with inquiries to contact the call centre.
CHANNEL USAGE IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS Total market - Trended H1 2017
40% 20% 0% ATM
Internet banking via a desktop/ laptop computer
Mobile banking via a web browser/app
Source: RFi Group – Hong Kong Retail Banking Council (H2 2017)
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Manulife Hong Kong goes online in accepting claim submission WORDS GRACE CHRISTIANTY Following the Hong Kong’s government push to encourage banks and financial institutions to offer digital services, Manulife recently offered a platform claimsimple.hk to allow its customers to submit their claim forms online. Manulife customers who would like to file a claim, just need to provide personal information and photos of the medical bills. This portal eliminates the need to fill in a physical form and post them through normal surface mail. Manulife expects that half of the medical claims will be submitted through this channel by end of this year; they anticipate the number of calls related to medical claims will also be reduced by up to 40%.
Manulife expects that half of the medical claims will be submitted through this channel by end of this year; they anticipate the number of calls related to medical claims will also be reduced by up to 40% Further to assist customers in submitting their claims, the insurer foresees the portal will be able to sell its other products such as health insurance, Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) – an investment-based pension scheme and online mutual fund. According to RFi Group data from Hong Kong Retail banking council, around half of banked customers in Hong Kong (54%) currently own a health insurance product. Among this group, around one in fifteen (15%) are planning to take up investment products such as mutual funds, investment-linked insurance, or MPF in the next six months. Manulife’s plan to upsell its products through the portal will be able to service the need of taking up investment products among this group.
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Insurance Singapore Life insurance acquired Zurich Life business in Asia WORDS GRACE CHRISTIANTY
ingapore’s first digital-only life insurance, Singapore Life which was established in June last year, recently announced its acquisition of Zurich Life insurance business in Asia. The deal totalling USD4.5 billion will allow Singapore Life to own rights in handling all policies of Zurich Life customers across Asia. Zurich Life sold its life insurance business in Singapore at the end of 2015 and the firm expects the transfer to Singapore Life to be completed by June this year. Other Zurich’s products in Singapore such as commercial insurance is still being owned by Zurich. RFi Group data from Singapore Retail Banking Council (H2 2017) shows that around six in ten banked customers in Singapore (61%) own a life insurance. According to Singapore Life’s founder and chief executive, Walter de Oude, the life insurance market will grow in Asia due to rising affluency as well aging population, which drives the need of the product.
Zurich Life sold its life insurance business in Singapore at the end of 2015 and the firm expects the transfer to Singapore Life to be completed by June this year.
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RFi Group data from Singapore Retail Banking Council (H2 2017) shows that around six in ten banked customers in Singapore (61%) own a life insurance.
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PRIORITY & PRIVATE BANKING
Priority & Private Banking Standard Chartered to expand its product by offering Premium Banking in Asia WORDS GRACE CHRISTIANTY
tandard Chartered recently announced its plan to roll out a new banking account, Standard Chartered Premium Banking across Asian markets this year. The product is aimed to reach the emerging affluent in Asia who are earning enough to start investing, and will offer benefits such as lifestyle, access to financial advisor, as well as travel privileges. Standard Chartered Premium Banking was initially launched in India in mid-last year and the bank has seen positive responses. According to the bank, the emerging affluent customers are looking for a convenient way to bank and are willing to save to achieve their life goals. Based on its
success in India, Standard Chartered is planning to roll out this product in ten other markets in Asia with details on the proposed roll-out still under internal discussion and review. According to RFi Group data from Priority Banking Council, the preference to open a priority account among the emerging affluent banked customers ranges from 10% to 35% across select markets in Asia, with the emerging affluent segment in India have the strongest interest. The emerging affluent will likely welcome the launch of Standard Chartered Premium Banking.
DO YOU PLAN TO OPEN A PRIORITY BANKING ACCOUNT IN THE NEXT 12 MONTHS? (YES) By Emerging Affluents who currently do not own any priority account 50% 40% 30%
35% 27% 19%
10% 0% China
Source: RFi Group â€“ Priority and Retail Banking (H2 2017)
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PRIORITY & PRIVATE BANKING
According to RFi Group data from Priority Banking Council, the preference to open a priority account among the emerging affluent banked customers ranges from 10% to 35% across select markets in Asia, with the emerging affluent segment in India have the strongest interest.
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OF THE PHILIPPINES population are banked (from weatlh model)
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as one which provides easy access to their accounts via branches or ATMs
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