2020 is set to be a tough year. There have been unprecedented disruptions to all industries with workforces largely restricted to working from home. Yet, many companies in the Financial Services Industry (FSI) have still successfully managed to provide essential services to customers. Indeed, we have seen that a substantial number of financial institutions have made big strides in their use of digital technologies and digital functionalities, to better cope with the challenges of the pandemic. Many industry leaders have already shared their insights for accelerating industry digital transformation as well as improving industrial operations.
I would like to give you a brief introduction to the progress Huawei has already made in the finance industry. As things stand today, we have already worked with more than 1600 financial institutions, including 45 of the world’s top 100 banks, spanning across more than 60 countries.
2019 was a tough year for Huawei, but we managed to overcome the challenges, gaining the trust of our customers in the process. In 2019 alone, we added over 300 new global FSI customers, who chose Huawei as a trusted transformation partner, recognizing the competitive positioning of our products and the value they bring, regardless of external challenges. I would like to thank every Huawei customer for their interest and support.
Indeed, in 2019, we built or strengthened partnerships with leading banks, and insurers as well as securities houses in France, Italy, Singapore, Brazil, Turkey, India, and beyond. We were able to enhance the reliability and resilience of legacy IT systems and boost digital capabilities for customers. These typical success stories reflect the real-world capabilities and real-world value Huawei products provide. We have become an integral partner for global FSI customers for their digital transformation needs.
We are committed to building a robust ecosystem with our global partners, providing them with innovative solutions and helping customers accelerate digital transformation. With the increasing demand for cashless and smart finance, Huawei works closely with leading global partners to help banks improve digital capabilities, ensuring that more people have access to financial services.
The construction of this global ecosystem is one of our core focuses, and we’ve been working extremely hard on it. Our goal is to build a comprehensive ecosystem and provide more services globally through Huawei’s rapidly growing cloud services. For example, in the near future, an African bank will be able to use a Chinese or European AI partner’s outbound call service over cloud .
In China, banks are accelerating their digital transformation. Here, Huawei has played an active role and has become the largest digital transformation partner for China's financial industry.
For instance, Huawei has helped leading Chinese banks complete the migration of massive data from traditional data warehouses to Huawei GaussDB platforms. This allows for the improved data processing and analytics capabilities specifically required in the mobile Internet era, further driving business innovation.
We are also working with leading banks to migrate their core credit card systems from a mainframe to an open distributed platform, with over 100 million customers involved. In addition to offering Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS), Huawei also takes part in the construction of cloud platforms for numerous large-scale banks.
In China, Internet tech giants possess unique competitive advantages as they explore disruptive FinTech applications, making competition from them in the financial sector extremely fierce. The competition and cooperation between these Internet giants and the Chinese financial industry has therefore been both unique and extremely interesting.
Of course, this year, this is all happening against the backdrop of COVID-19, with financial institutions around the world continuing to strive to ensure service continuity for customers. Huawei is doing the same.
We are customer-centric and committed to supporting our customers in Business Continuity Management (BCM), making the most of our global capabilities. Huawei has the global resources to efficiently respond to customer needs, providing urgent deliveries and enhanced digital support, for example, as well as ensuring the normal operation of data centers.
With the majority of technical experts working from home during the pandemic, the use of remote Proof of Concept (PoC) tools has emerged. To date, we have successfully completed over 500 remote PoCs with global customers. Our innovative set-up allows customers to implement all configurations and complete load testing and functional testing, all without the need to leave their homes.
Huawei and Chinese financial institutions have also accumulated vast experience in adapting to remote offices and the closure of a significant number of physical branches. Over the past three months, we have hosted online exchanges with over 50 financial clients from our headquarters in Shenzhen and offices overseas. This has allowed us to share our experiences and exchange views on the global financial picture.
Looking ahead to the future, uncertainty is the biggest problem as we look to enter the post-pandemic era. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) World Economic Outlook, the global economy will shrink sharply, by at least 3% in 2020, a larger contraction than the 2008–2009 financial crisis. Work, life, and business have all been profoundly affected, ushering in a “new normal.” We need to consider what this mean for financial institutions. How can we deal with such uncertainties?
Over the short term, global economic contraction will affect banks’ loan-loss reserves. Even with central bank intervention, the impact is likely to remain severe.
Twitter, a huge global company has announced that its employees can choose to work permanently from home if they prefer. However, banking has not made such a dramatic change. Overall, this is unsurprising in a sector traditionally viewed as conservative.
However, on the contrary, banking’s rapid embrace of digital strategies during these times belies that image. So, in wealth management for example, banks can and have offered consulting and transaction services digitally, allowing customers more time to look after their investments. As a result, wealth management has boomed and there has been a dramatic change in client behavior.
To underline the main point: we have found that digital technology is a critical way to address the impact of the pandemic. This digital space is where leading global financial institutions work their best amid the process of digital transformation. China Merchants Bank (CMB), for instance, has continued to efficiently issue large loans to corporate customers through a zero-contact process. Meanwhile, China Life held an online training live broadcast for over one million insurance agents. It is therefore abundantly clear: financial institutions with high-performing digital capabilities will thrive in the future.
As I have just said, we have had numerous exchanges online with numerous financial executives across the world. They all believe that remote work capabilities and business agility are particularly critical in the new normal. And we can surely all agree that financial institutions must move quickly into this digital world. It is further predicted that e-commerce, digital payments, and super apps will gain further traction and become major trends. Rapid changes must come with renewed models for Business Continuity Management (BCM) covering mobile offices, digital transformation, risk management, internal control processes, and more.
Simultaneously, digital transformation will be more effective with the well-timed introduction of new technologies including 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT), to accelerate the process. Early adopters will be able to convert today’s challenges into competitive advantages in the future and take a comfortable lead in the digital world.
The digital world will be based on mobility, with connectivity becoming exceedingly important: customers will need and demand full access to financial and non-financial services anytime, anywhere. 5G is not just an innovative connection point but also one that drives business innovations, to enable all-round customer experiences. In the future, powerful real-time connections must be ubiquitous, and 5G, IoT, and flexible networks are key technologies in delivering this.
We believe that mobile capacity will be the core capability of future banks. It will not only serve as a point of contact with clients, but also as an interface for internal operations and collaborations with partners. The mobile apps of banks will become a key operational platform. To support such a mobile-centric model requires new Information Technology (IT) architecture and key capabilities in 5G, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and cloud. As a leader in these fields, Huawei is uniquely positioned to support the cloud transformation of financial institutions as well as build new connectivity capabilities, helping financial institutions improve agility and innovation
Mobile apps will be the main arena for future banks, with digital customer acquisition dictating app traffic. Banking apps will become the core platform for digital operations, and will turn into super apps by combining multiple services for all scenarios, creating an ecosystem.
Banks will therefore need to transform into mobile-centric IT architecture, including building mobile internet based on 5G technology, restructuring flexible cloud-based and distributed IT architecture, building AI-powered data platforms, and building agile micro-service architecture, open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) , and more.
Over the past ten years, we have gained a wealth of experience in the global financial industry. In particular, in the Chinese market, we have invaluable firsthand experience working with top banks undergoing digital transformation at the same time as they are competing with tech giants exploring FinTech disruptions to the industry. The rapid development in the mobile app era of these banks has also provided a great deal of insight. We are more than happy to share our experience and ecosystems with our customers and partners around the world, to enter the mobile digital world together.