Malaysia's best digital bank 2020: RHB
Picking Malaysia’s digital champion in the coronavirus age is even more difficult than usual. Every financial institution is racing to adapt to customers’ needs to avoid brick-and-mortar facilities and ATMs. Call-centre operations face unprecedented upheaval thanks to a work-from-home zeitgeist that few saw coming.
Against this backdrop RHB’s ambitions deserve recognition. A stand-alone digital unit was formed in 2017, operating from a separate location from top corporate brass, seems an apt metaphor for the dynamic.
Think of it as a scrappy startup within a tradition-bound firm, prodding the bank to disrupt itself in ways the broader Malaysian economy isn’t.
Even before Covid hit, the RHB Mobile Banking app – launched in April 2019 – was on a tear. As of late May, it had grown 47%. It’s now being expanded into business banking, cash management, insurance, investment and partnering with international institutions.
RHB is perfecting its chatbot system, southeast Asia’s first real-time messenger-style platform for personal loans and credit card applications. Rohan Krishnalingam, RHB’s chief technology officer, deserves credit for preparing the bank for a crisis no one saw coming.
Krishnalingam’s team is also focused on small and medium-sized enterprises. The cornerstone of the business is iSmart, a tablet and web application allowing RHB’s SME sales force to locate new customers, manage existing relationships, track performance, sell products and guide customers toward services that free up RHB staff to focus elsewhere.
As of the end of May, iSmart boosted internal productivity by 9%, as measured by loans approved and accepted. The tool also has a dashboard offering real-time data and metrics to allow RHB to recalibrate its products and services.
RHB’s SME Online Financing service allows finance-starved mom-and-pop companies to apply for loans within 10 minutes with minimal fuss and data inputs. In the five months to the end of May, more than 56% of unsecured SME financing was originated online, a share that is sure to increase exponentially in the Covid-19 era.