The future of banking has arrived

At a time when the majority of the banking industry is trying to adjust business models to reflect a more digital ecosystem, several financial and non-financial organizations in China have already brought together big data, advanced analytics, modern digital technology and an innovation culture to deliver exceptional consumer experiences. The question is, can financial institutions elsewhere in the world catch up?

As part of a recent week-long trip to Shenzhen, China, I visited some of the most technologically advanced organizations in the world. Starting with a rare two-day private tour of Huawei Technologies, I was then provided exclusive access to executives from Ping An Financial Services, WeLab, Alibaba and WeBank(founded by Tencent). These meetings provided an unfiltered perspective into the future of technology and how financial services can be delivered.

Beyond allowing me to experience how a city of the future operates, each stop greatly expanded my horizon of what has been achieved by businesses in this region of the world. It also enlightened me on the potential of what can be achieved if financial and non-financial organizations followed the lead of China in the areas of data analytics and privacy, building an innovation culture, committing to ongoing research and development, focusing on financial inclusion and taking advantage of the potential of collaboration.

Upon arrival in Shenzhen, it was immediately apparent I had arrived in a ‘city of the future’. From the eerily quiet impact of near 100% electric vehicle penetration, to the masses of bicycles (and cameras) on every corner, the contrast to a typical city in the West was striking. Unlike the feel of a ‘normal’ city, virtually nobody is on the streets except before work, during lunch, or after work during a normal work day (which is still twelve hours long, six days a week at most companies), making Shenzhen sometimes feel like a vacated metropolis.


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