MALAYAN Banking Bhd (Maybank) Singapore appears not to be taking any chances when it comes to the ever-changing role of banks.
It has devised strategies which it hopes will continue to keep the lender relevant in the city-state where it is just one of the many hundreds of financial institutions hungry for a bigger slice of the pie.
Maybank Singapore CEO John Lee Hin Hock makes no qualms in saying that, while what banks currently do is necessary, the big question is whether people actually need banks to do these things.
“You take whatever we do today, for example, we give loans and take deposits. But (now) we have crowdfunding and P2Ps (peer to peer), so we don’t need banks anymore right?
“I think every bank is asking that question – so in a lot of the things you see we are doing, we are conscious of the fact that if we don’t evolve, we will basically disappear,” he tells StarBizWeek matter-of-factly, at Maybank’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur earlier this week.
In his first exclusive interview with Malaysian media since assuming the head honcho role at Maybank Singapore a year ago, Lee, who was previously Maybank group chief risk officer, knows that he has his work cut out for him.
Especially so, in an extremely competitive market like Singapore.
“Singapore is a very different market from Malaysia; the main difference is that the Singapore market is a world stage.
“Malaysia is still a close market. You look at the (number) of players here, it is limited, it is not as open as in Singapore where anyone can come in.”
One of the strategies that he is contemplating to employ is a “re-modelling” of Maybank’s Singapore branches, which total 20, in all.
“We want to re-design our branches so that people come to our branches but how do we make people come to our branches?
“If I give you an offering, you might want to come right? The question is what (is the offering) and how do we engage our customers.”
The bank recently launched MSpace, a test branch or what it calls a concept branch – which combines bank, cafe and customer engagement sessions – in the hopes of finding that elusive answer.