Digital transformation in the banking space

I moderated a regional virtual event a few weeks ago that gathered executives in the banking space to discuss and share learnings in their organizations’ digital transformation journeys. We heard insights from executives in Malaysia and India and were also lucky to have the pleasure of hearing from Philippine bank executives.

The banking experience in the country is continuously evolving. While the pandemic drove the behavior to utilize online transactions, the new normal is proving that maintaining this behavior is the more sustainable and efficient route given that people do tend to avoid going to the branch as much as possible, and for good reason. As far as generations are concerned, millennials, Generation Z and all the digital natives out there prefer to use digital banking, hence the rise of the digital banks in the country. The come on: interest rates are higher than usual and one will be really enticed to open an account — all done in five minutes wherever you are. Such a banking experience has never been seen before and it is truly this time that consumers are provided with more options on where to put their money.


In working on their digital transformation journey, the esteemed panelists shared their thoughts on these main areas:

Architecture. Puneet Gupta, co-founder and managing director of Neofy, shared the importance of having an architecture that is flexible, malleable and nimble. There is a challenge that must be addressed in looking at digital as an afterthought and on top of legacy systems. Such should not be the case and digital architecture must be done ideally from the ground up. In conceptualizing new builds, organizations should consider the core of the digital platform to be “thinking,” i.e. smart. This allows them to look into capabilities and leverage technologies available such as cloud, blockchain and artificial intelligence, among others. Digital is all about experiences. In addition, Steven Low, chief risk officer of Prince Bank in Malaysia, echoed the need to maintain efficiency and control in managing digital platforms and portfolios so that the delivery of services to consumers becomes truly seamless and continuous.

Customer-centricity. Abet Tinio, chief commercial officer of GOTyme Bank Corp., emphasized that the key in starting the transformation journey was in incorporating a digital customer strategy into the customer journey. Channels must be flexible and reachable in order to provide convenient service. Ease of use becomes truly imperative in this case. Simplicity becomes an important aspect as well in designing an easy-to-use app for customers. This was also reiterated by Union Bank Vice President Jaypee Soliman as he stressed that this secret sauce must always remain relevant and that in creating new products, organizations could assess relevance by how it goes down to the market. Personalization becomes the by-product of a customer-centric approach and this will delight customers further.

Leadership. This is undeniably an important aspect when implementing the digital transformation initiative. Taking in the right digital-savvy leaders does not happen overnight. While there are day-to-day tools that may be used, doing digital upgrades whenever possible and available will also enable the organization to reap its benefits, especially in communications. Communicating frequently with stakeholders, alignment and sharing the vision altogether will help make the initiative a successful one. In addition, the culture angle cannot be missed as well and it is important to consider this in planning.


Incorporating architecture, customer-centricity and leadership components, among others, in the organization’s digital transformation journey will provide better strategic alignment and holistic execution approach.

Kay Calpo Lugtu is the chief operating officer of Hungry Workhorse, a digital and culture transformation firm. Her advocacies include food innovation, nation-building and sustainability. The author may be reached at