Change is as much a part of life as breath itself, and that’s true in banking. Already in the midst of transforming itself to meet the expectations of its increasingly digitally inclined customer base better, COVID-19 gave it a swift kick that has expedited those adjustments. As society transitions into the “new normal”, what are some of the positive changes in banking that will remain even as the virus wanes?
Belgium’s bank-insurer KBC Group has learned through experience that thinking differently and aiming for the next level is the surest way to meet its goals of enabling customers as they realize their dreams and protecting them as they progress. In our interview, CEO Johan Thijs explains how KBC is leading through one of the most challenging times the financial and insurance industries have experienced, with its focus trained on customers.
Mr. Simon Hughes of International Banker travels to Belgium to interview Mr. Johan Thijs, Chief Executive Officer, KBC Group, on the bank’s ongoing digital transformation, the innovation that drives that transformation and KBC’s wider role in society.
Belgium’s KBC has since its inception 20 years ago been committed to meeting its customers’ multiple needs, helping them realize their dreams and protecting them as they achieved them. In the process, it grew into one of Europe’s top bank-insurers, today serving 11 million customers. But that enviable success is not enough. KBC is in the midst of a Digital First metamorphosis that is pushing through the known boundaries of customer service.
Lately, there seems to be a frenzy well fed by consulting firms in the enterprise world about digitisation and the necessity to “digitise” companies’ business models and operations.
The banking industry in Ukraine has been beset by conditions so dire—from rampant fraud in its main banks, threats of war to foreign capital flight—that some thought it would never fully recover. Yet with help from international partners, the government, under the leadership of the National Bank of Ukraine, is making impressive strides toward putting its banking sector back on solid, fruitful ground.
It is becoming clear that trade digitisation has huge potential to unlock access to world trade for small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The move away from laborious, manual, paper-based processes will lever simpler access to trade finance
After two decades of innovation, the benefits of digitisation are becoming clearer to banks, corporates, carriers and many of the other parties involved in international trade.
The digitalisation of the trade-finance industry is still very much a work in progress. The findings of the ICC Banking Commission’s latest Global Survey on Trade Finance, “Rethinking Trade and Finance”, shed light on the extent of the progression up until now and suggest what still needs to be done to accelerate the journey toward transformative innovation and its attendant benefits.
Leading has always been demanding of one’s personal skills and knowledge, but the world of digital has upped the ante even more for banking executives. Digital stewardship, decentralised decision-making and followership are three practical approaches toward developing digital leadership, crucial for financial institutions that are shepherding their staff and clients through the unknown and continuously evolving digital journey.