HSBC aims to work like a fintech

HSBC wants to speed up its digital transformation by working like a fintechTwo years after it started on an accelerated path towards digital transformation, HSBC wants to further speed up the process by “working like a fintech”.

According to a new report published by Ernst & Young, a fintech is an organization that combines innovative business models and technology to enable, enhance and disrupt financial services.

“Now, they are clearly not talking about traditional players like us,” said Darryl West, HSBC CIO at the recently concluded RISE Conference in Hong Kong. "The thing that we always challenge ourselves about in HSBC is – why can’t we behave like a fintech, why can’t we enhance and disrupt our own business model to improve the customer experience."

West noted: “We used to be very traditional, waterfall approach delivering solutions that took a long time, very cautious. Now we have co-located, multi-function teams. We have state-of-the art software delivery tools to have this continuous integration and continuous delivery. So it feels very different. So if you come to visit my team, you would find that it feels more like a fintech startup environment than a traditional enterprise. So we are doing this in scale across the whole company, and it is making a massive difference in our speed of delivery and the quality of the software we are delivering.”

Going into the fintech mode

Last September, HSBC rented co-working space at WeWork in Causeway Bay to house its digital team composed of a few hundred people – both internal employees and technology partners.

“What we found to be one of the challenges and also opportunities for HSBC has been how to teach flexibility to existing teams in our workforce, who haven’t been through this transformation, through a lot of informal and unstructured learning,” Andrew Connell, head of digital – Asia Pacific, HSBC Retail Banking and Wealth Management, told Computerworld Hong Kong.

“We identify the people who we think would benefit from this by inviting them into our digital team and then moving them out. And then, we train the digital team downwards – and then gradually upwards, if you like – to try more immersive experiences for people around the business, to become more open and to think about how they can transform the business,” he added.

In keeping with the bank’s focus on fast-paced, customer-oriented innovation, HSBC’s digital team works on delivering new features as well as upgrades to ongoing projects every few weeks.

Some new products that came out from the digital team include: a social payment app called PayMe launched in Hong Kong in February, which allows money to be sent between users without needing their bank account numbers; and SmartSave, a savings app that is currently being pilot tested in the UK.