Managing change and uncertainty is part and parcel of operating in the world’s financial markets, especially in the frontier and emerging markets sectors. At the time of writing this that experience is looking to be very relevant as the COVID-19 virus is spreading further afield, bringing market uncertainty in its wake. At Standard Chartered we are monitoring the situation very carefully, doing our best to ensure the safety of our staff while at the same time keeping our operations and processes running as close to normal as possible.
As many of the industry will already know, with this in mind the decision was made to postpone The Network Forum Africa meeting due to take place in Johannesburg in March.
As with other members of the community – I’m hopeful that we will maintain our engagement with the network throughout the year, finding alternative ways as and when needed.
Technology and the innovation, especially during this unprecedented period continues to be a hot topic. In this issue we take an in-depth look at the opportunities this presents in Africa as well as some of the concepts we see emerging in the digital asset space.
We continue to invest in our footprint and our people and are excited to introduce you to our new Securities Services Head in Nigeria in this edition. We have also recently welcomed Tina Knights as COO for Securities Services, succeeding Kat Rosboch who, after four extremely successful years in the role, moves on to a new challenge within the Bank. Tina, who is based in Singapore, has more than 20 years’ experience in operations and technology across global markets, where she has pioneered the use of emerging technologies to transform approaches to process re-engineering and operational support models. With Tina overseeing Operations, the backbone of our Securities Services organisation, we will continue to deliver the best outcomes for our clients and our business.
Emerging markets remain an important focus for global investors and we were honoured to recently receive a record 29 out of 30 possible accreditations in the Global Custodian Agent Banks in Emerging Markets 2019 Survey. Thank you for taking the time to participate in the survey and for rating us as your favoured provider in mainland China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Taiwan, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates. The awards are especially timely for Thailand, which has shown remarkable progress in its social and economic development in recent years and has a promising long-term growth outlook. We take a closer look at the country in this issue.
I hope you enjoy this edition of The Custodian. As always, if you have any feedback to share, we are eager to hear from you.
Global Head Securities Services
<Br><Br>Innovation a catalyst
for investment in Africa
Innovation a catalyst for investment in Africa
The Africa region provides many opportunities for new technologies to grow and shine. In Africa, mobile penetration is much higher than internet penetration. As such, technology changes have been typically driven by the retail segment instead of corporates.
Mobile network operators have become disruptors to traditional financial services, leveraging partnerships with fintechs and other micro-financial institutions.
Changes driven by fintech companies are often perceived as a threat to traditional financial service providers where new innovative business models are evolved. However, at Standard Chartered, we welcome such changes especially in markets where we are looking at an unprecedented opportunity to provide efficient access to financial services particularly to the unbanked or underbanked populations.
The way forward
Traditional banking institutions need to continue to transform in order to compete in a meaningful manner, leveraging on the success of innovation in the retail space.
For example, the use of data analytics and APIs are important areas in which to build new capabilities and products for distributing financial services in Africa via mobile networks.
Looking at the trend of digital transformation globally, market participants such as banks, securities exchanges and regulators around the world are also experimenting and moving to blockchains, APIs, data analytics and machine learning. It is therefore essential to be ready to handle upcoming changes in the communication infrastructure with clients, market participants and infrastructure providers.
At Standard Chartered, we are constantly investing in new technologies and products which could enhance our offerings to clients in Africa. For example, we have created a blockchain bridge to translate messages between different blockchain technologies to allow interoperability and facilitate atomic swaps of tokens across different blockchains. If an asset can be traded against any other asset or currency in their digital form, we are well placed to enable such transactions.
Besides exploring new technologies, we are contributing in two ways to the fintech ecosystem:
- We see fintech companies as our partners. We have built mutually beneficial partnerships which can enhance our product offerings and bring more value to our clients.
- We support fintech companies through investments and sharing of industry experience to better understand client requirements.
Given our involvement in the Africa financial industry, we are exposed to a huge set of data on the ground. Utilising the data responsibly and sharing industry insights with fintech companies ultimately allows for improved products and services for clients.