Hong Kong's best digital bank 2018: Bank of East Asia
Bank of East Asia
Excellence in digital banking is not easy. Many lenders struggle to adapt to an era where everyone is online, but where some customers still covet the personal touch.
Bank of East Asia, set to turn 100 years old next year, has pondered this quandary long and hard. Its solution has been to bring in new technology in stages, ensuring that it is with its clientele every step of the way.
An inaugural digital pop-up branch a few years ago, installed in the landmark IFC building, was “so much favoured by customers,” says deputy chief executive Adrian Li, that BEA decided to overhaul its entire branch network.
Existing branches are gutted and rebuilt over a long weekend, emerging to resemble high-end retail stores. The tellers remain during normal opening hours, but the number in each branch is cut to three from seven or more. New ‘i-Counter’ screens offer direct communication with staff located in Kwun Tong, from 9am to 8pm Monday to Sunday.
Trained personnel help customers browse products, download forms and apply digitally for loans and credit cards, using technology developed in-house, says head of personal banking Vincent Hui.
Bank of East Asia’s investment in digital has helped to prune its physical network to 70 branches, from 88, though some new branches are opening in malls and train stations, where Hong Kongers spend a large portion of their lives.
This has bolstered BEA’s bottom line, with the bank attracting wealthier customers, who invest and deposit more with the lender. And BEA continues to innovate, launching a popular and ever-evolving mobile app, and rolling out a secure integrated platform, the ‘i-Planner’, which caters to customers’ financial and lifestyle needs.