Redefining Finance for Good: How the Pandemic Fast Tracked CIMB’s Digital Initiatives

Redefining Finance for Good: How the Pandemic Fast Tracked CIMB’s Digital Initiatives

by September 21, 2020

COVID-19 has been an important catalyst for digital transformation across all industries. In banking, the pandemic has accelerated banks’ digitalisation push and triggered a sharp rise in digital payments and digital banking usage.

This has pushed banks to not only fast-track their digital initiatives but also to respond with empathy and help their customers through these trying times.

In partnership with Finastra, the Fintech News Network is running a series of interviews with the industry’s top banking voices to understand how their organisations have responded to these changes.

Following the first piece of our “Redefining Finance for Good Series” where we spoke to Jeremy Soo, Head of Consumer Banking at DBS, we reached out to Samir Gupta, CEO of Group Consumer Banking at CIMB Group to understand how his bank has responded and adapted to this unique chapter in our human history.

Samir Gupta was recently recognised as the “Retail Banker of the Year in Asia Pacific 2019” at the Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards held in Dubai.

Not banking as usual

In Malaysia when the Movement Control Order was implemented in March 2020, these new changes effectively put a halt to nearly everything abruptly. For CIMB, it was no easy task to mobilise its nearly 35,000 staff to adapt overnight changes.

Gupta said that in order to respond to these changes, the bank had to react swiftly to ensure business continuity. This required them to not only deploy new digital solutions for customers and staff but it also required a coordinated effort to retrain and re-educate all the stakeholders involved.

“We had to offer new and innovative ways to serve our customers whilst still keeping them and our employees safe,” Gupta said. “As part of that, we spent considerable efforts in educating our customers to perform their banking from the safety of their own homes, using CIMB Clicks”.

“Alongside this, we changed our processes, both for back-office and branch staff, to enable our staff to do remote interaction with clients, for service and sales, without compromising controls.”

On the enterprise front, CIMB eliminated the need for SME customers to visit the branch for loan applications with the launch of its “Biz Financing Portal” and rolled out an online to branch account opening process to reduce service time and limit physical contact.

Extending a helping hand

Beyond just ensuring that employees had the right tools to do their jobs and customers were able to access its services, it was crucial for CIMB to aid its customers during their hour of need.

CIMB said that as of June, the group’s COVID-19 financial assistance initiatives has benefited over 1.25 million customers and around 16,000 SMEs and corporate clients in terms of cash flow alleviation.

The bank’s support for affected customers will continue post-moratorium via its Targeted Assistance Programme, which is in line with the government’s extended COVID-19 relief initiatives. Through this programme, the bank has proactively reached out to 330,000 retail customers in Malaysia to offer support.

For non-retail customers, the group has engaged with over 11,000 of their business customers covering SME, commercial and corporates in Malaysia, and will provide assistance where necessary.

Aside from financial assistance initiatives, the bank also offered other forms of support which include extending its zero-fee cross border remittance, free webinars with Shopmatic to help SMEs set up e-commerce stores, and working with 10 NGOs on a charity crowdfunding platform.

Surge in digital banking

Before COVID-19, CIMB had observed a gradual shift towards digital banking, Gupta said. The crisis has definitely accelerated that transition, with CIMB recording a surge in digital banking usage.

During the lockdown, people were forced to turn to digital channels to manage their finances and conduct transactions, forming new consumer habits during the crisis.

“We observed an increase of 47% in monthly online financial transactions, from February to July, with 40 million transactions and 90 million log ins,” Gupta said. “We do foresee this change to be sustained. Generally, we believe that most customers will continue to transact online as they prefer the convenience and safer methods of contactless debit cards and online banking through CIMB Clicks.”

Moving forward, Gupta said that the bank will focus on making its sales and service offerings more accessible to customers, as well as continue educating them on digital financial services.

“We have deployed over 10 million electronic direct mails (EDMs) and SMSes to educate our customers about CIMB Clicks and its capabilities. In addition, we are also making further enhancements to CIMB Clicks for a better banking experience. We are working very hard to continue to strengthen the stability of the back-end infrastructure of CIMB Clicks, to support the growing transaction volume.”


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