HSBC to launch new mobile P2P payment platform in the ‘next few days’

The bank says the HKMA’s fintech initiatives are helping its digital push

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 September, 2016, 8:51pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 September, 2016, 10:53pm

HSBC will launch a new mobile peer-to-peer payment system in the next few days, according to the bank’s head of retail banking and wealth management, Greg Hingston

The new ‘easy pay’ system will function within HSBC’s existing mobile application and will allow users to transfer funds instantaneously. It will only require knowledge of the recipient’s mobile phone number to transfer the money.

The new system will be among the first tangible results in Hong Kong of the bank’s US$1.7 billion global transformation plan in which digitalisation is playing an important role.

As well as the P2P platform, HSBC will begin rolling out its new internet banking services in Hong Kong before the end of this year, and a new stand-alone mobile application for stock trading is expected early next year.

The biggest threat to banks may not be small fintech startups, but large tech firms like Tencent or Facebook
Henri Arslanian, adjunct professor, Hong Kong University

Speaking to the media on Thursday, Hingston said he thought HSBC was roughly half way through its transformation process, but that so far most of the changes had been in the bank’s internal systems.

“The biggest thing for us, I think, is being faster at getting [new digital] services out there. That is why we are investing very heavily now but, more importantly, [we are investing] so that we are able to do this more quickly moving forward.

“I think the greatest threat at the moment from my perspective is that some of our new competitors are faster [than we are]. A lot of this investment is about making HSBC more agile.”

HSBC is not only facing competition from other traditional banks, but also financial technology startups who are able to move far more quickly, and other companies moving into the financial services space.

“The biggest threat to banks may not be small fintech startups, but rather large tech firms like Tencent or Facebook, who not only have the talent and customer user experience expertise, but also the brand recognition and customer trust,” said Henri Arslanian, adjunct professor at Hong Kong University, who teaches Asia’s first fintech university course.

Hong Kong is often perceived to be behind other jurisdictions in the region, for example Singapore, Australia and mainland China, when it comes to use of technology in financial services.

However, earlier this month, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority announced that it would be launching a new fintech innovation hub and supervisory “sandbox” for fintech which would allow licensed banks in Hong Kong to trial new financial technology products on consumers without meeting all the current regulatory criteria.

HSBC are currently in discussions with the HKMA to trial their new internet banking platform in the supervisory sandbox, according to the bank’s head of digital for retail banking and wealth management, Andrew Eldon.

“We built our new internet banking platform in a different way, which meant we had to resubmit it to the HKMA, and they suggested that we could use the sandbox to consider expanding our beta testing programme to a wider audience,” Eldon said.

More broadly, the HKMA’s drive to better facilitate fintech is assisting HSBC as it digitalises in Hong Kong.

“I think our ability to move and bring things to market more quickly is not just something we are doing internally, but also is something that we are working on with the regulator, and will mean we can bring things to market more quickly than we could have done in the past,” said Hingston.