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Fintech is not limited to start-ups. The banking industry has always been part of it. Raymond Cheng, Group General Manager and Chief Operating Officer, Asia Pacific, HSBC, points out that technology takes up a major part of our lives and all kinds of business. “No enterprise can excel without technology. The younger generation should learn and embrace technology. Technology might be the fundamental part that enables the development of one's career.”
In fact, the banking industry and the government have collaborated to promote fintech research and development, and talents training in recent years. After establishing HSBC-ASTRI Research and Development Innovation Laboratory with Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI), HSBC has participated in the Fintech Career Accelerator Scheme, co-organised by Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and ASTRI, to offer internship vacancies in digital business and fintech projects to university students.
As the Chief Operating Officer of HSBC in Asia-Pacific, Raymond is also responsible for I.T. development in the region. He advises that young people should stick to their own believes because that is the only way that they can play to their strengths. The innovation on the internet and mobile phones has given rise to new business models and company types. There is a wide range of career opportunities offered in the market, from small online game companies to large-scale banks, but young people should always look for the one in which they have the passion and the interest.
"Blockchain is definitely the trend in the market."
Raymond shares that the direction of HSBC's latest fintech development is on three major areas: behavioural biometrics authentication, and artificial intelligence. Some of the technologies can be combined. For example, combining fingerprint and facial recognition, and tapping habit on mobile phones can make effective and secure customer verification. HSBC plans to release biometric customer verification in the first quarter of 2017. (Remarks : HSBC launched Voice Biometrics Security Technology in March 2017.) Other research topics include big data analysis, cyber security, internet finance, etc.
“Blockchain is definitely the trend in the market. In a few years’ time, it will mature under different applications. Though it is a highly secured protocol and goes beyond conceptual stage, it needs all the parties within the ecosystem to use same set of protocols. This process takes time. We envision that trade finance ecosystem can leverage blockchain technology in order to allow customers enjoy faster, cheaper and more secured services.”
Moreover, HSBC is conducting an in-house testing on artificial intelligence on Chinese character recognition. This will greatly enhance internal operation efficiency. Raymond explains that there are a huge amount of application forms and letters for the bank to process. The Optical Character Recognition technology can recognise addresses hand-written in Chinese and deep learning capability will continuously improve the accuracy. Through implementing these technologies in the bank, the efficiency and productivity are enhanced, helping to diminish cost and improve productivity.
“One of the greatest challenges in applying new technology is the customers' level of acceptance.”
To deliver better services, HSBC leverages various avenues of opportunities such as recruitment, acquisition, collaboration and outsourcing to drive innovation. Raymond believes that HSBC will invest more and more on technology. “Our IT organisation operates at over 10 locations around the world. We leverage one single set of best practice and platforms so as to enhance maximum efficiency as well as share the knowledge and know-how among our IT staff globally.”
One of the greatest challenges in applying new technology is the clients’ level of acceptance. “Using new technologies means doing things with new methods. We need to help our customers to transform and adopt new technologies. For example, paper has now been widely replaced by electronic documents but a number of people still prefer paper. There are many other similar cases.”
At the same time, the bank has to make sure the security of the new technologies meets the requirements set by the regulatory authorities. “New technology comes with new regulations or guidelines introduced by the regulators. All parties must march towards the same goal and we have to make sure all the parties adhere to the solid and robust regulatory principles.”
Raymond graduated from the University of Hong Kong and has undertaken academic research work in the Netherlands.
Raymond is a Group General Manager and Chief Operating Officer for HSBC in the Asia Pacific region. He assumes overall responsibility for Information Technology, Back Office Operations, Corporate Real Estate and Procurement covering 20 countries in the region.
Also, he is the Director of Hong Kong Notes Printing Ltd, Hong Kong Interbank Clearing Ltd, HKICL Services Ltd, Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation and Hong Kong Institute for IT Professional Certification.