The first decade of the new millennium saw rapid and unparalleled growth across Asia-Pacific economies. Based on the 2013 Forbes Billionaires list, the region has 386 billionaires and came in second to the US and ahead of Europe and the Americas. Indeed, high-net worth individuals emerged all over the region as strong stock markets, rising property prices, and high savings rates helped boost fortunes, while middle class households emerged thanks to increases in average incomes and declines in levels of absolute poverty.
The financial services industry (FSI) boomed during this period as it effortlessly captured underpenetrated and supply-constrained markets. Just in the last two years alone, the region has seen Myanmar undergo significant political and economic developments, including policies targeted to lift restrictions on the flow of foreign investment, while China has continued to open its doors even wider to foreign investors.
However, technological advances, regulatory changes, and the increasing need for business continuity are reshaping the FSI landscape in Asia Pacific. In mature markets, the unparalleled access to fast and flexible mobile technologies means financial institutions are racing to meet customers' very high expectations in terms of service and experience.
Today, it is imperative for financial services industry-based organizations to leverage new virtual social channels to become more interactive by harnessing new technologies, more competitive by adapting to changing environments, and more intelligent by better understanding their audience.
How can FSI organizations successfully position themselves and differentiate their business strategies?
1. Harnessing technological advances
The FSI industry in Asia-Pacific is seeing main technological advances shaping its operating landscape - multifunctional mobile technologies and high-volume data.
Gone are the days when mobile devices were solely used for communication. We are seeing diversification in the usage of mobile phones; such as entertainment, social media, eCommerce and online transactions. Mobile adoption will continue to grow as the region expects to have nearly three billion mobile phone users out of a total 5.10 billion across the globe in four years' time.
According to recent CISCO VNI forecasts, there will be 3.4 billion Internet users around the globe by 2017, half of which will be in Asia Pacific. In addition, around nine billion networked devices (smartphones and tablets) will generate more traffic in 2017 than the entire global mobile network in 2012 (2.7 GB of traffic per device and per month).
FSI organizations must leverage this surge in data strategically to dive deep into customer behaviors and preferences. The insights garnered will enhance their capabilities to build brand loyalty and develop strong relationships with customers. It will also open them to new market opportunities and revenue streams when they offer targeted and individualized services to their customers.
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