Interviewed By Foo Boon Ping
Devashis Das, deputy head of Global Transaction Banking, Asia Oceania at Mizuho Bank discusses the latest financial technologies and the opportunities they create for the banking industry.
Foo Boon Ping (FBP), The Asian Banker: We are in SIBOS 2019 in London. Very happy to be speaking with Devashis Das of Mizuho Bank.
Devashis Das (DD), Mizuho Bank: Yes. Thank you.
FBP: A lot is going around for the last two days. Tell us in terms of the conversation that you've been having, in some of the forums that you have attended, we are going through a stage, a lot of initiatives around digitalisation, around global payment innovation (gpi). What are the opportunities that you're seeing, for creating and how is it reshaping the business for you?
DD: There's a lot actually, you are right. It is surprising to see, first of all, that SIBOS is happening in London, for the first time. I did not know that. Right now, there is lot of conversation going around, gpi is one of them and there are a lot more conversation happening this year compared to previous years, and they're showing the progress. I saw a few things, which as a gpi bank, everyone is on gpi and they are processing the transactions using gpi. But more important to me, I saw the promising nature of what they're bringing to the table for the coming months and a few quarters. Like examples of pre-validations, examples of resolution of the cases, even the gpi tracker. Today, like two years back when gpi came in, every bank ran into creating their own tracker to give something to the customer, because the customer can track their transactions. Now the gpi tracker that SWIFT has come up with, that will be a good opportunity for any bank, so not investing into another technology, another cost, another resource, we can just look up in the tracker, and use it as a basic tracker. It is very basic, you can put your transaction number and then inquire. So that's good. And then of course, instant payments is another one which, as you know, in many markets, instant payment is now life and transactions are going through on a day-by-day basis. Now they're connecting the cross-border piece with the instant payment, which was piloted sometime between China and Australia, I see that as very promising. Because wherever we are, if we are processing, let's say, fast payment in Singapore, there's no point of us not doing the cross-border payment and the domestic leg on an instant basis, as long as there is a demand from the customer. So those are the promising things which I see as a huge opportunity for Mizuho.
FBP: And beyond gpi, beyond payments, in the area of digitisation of trade what are some of the things that you're seeing?
DDs: Digitisation actually, is a transformation, which I see as a constant theme every year in SIBOS and this year is no different. This year there is probably much more mature discussion happening, whether it is distributed ledger, or whether it is just data or digitisation, all of them have taken a shift where you see more commercialisation happening, right. We are with a view that innovation is part of the daily work, you have to have creative ways of finding solutions to the problems we have. So in that sense, for example, apart from what we have in Tokyo, which is a huge digitalisation team, in across many centres, regions, we have digitalisation as one of the topics. In Singapore, it's not a lab, we don't have labs, where people are working on projects, but we have a concept across the team, and cross functional teams, they bring in the ideas. With the ideas, we bring the data into that, we have created data lakes, and once you create the data lakes, then it's up to the business how you want to use the data. So there's a lot of progress happening in that area. Nothing commercial yet. But we are looking at it. There are a lot of internal efficiencies we have achieved by just massaging the data and making sense of it. And it's a matter of taking it forward to the next stage.
FBP: Which kind of leads us to the next question, Today, whether big corporate or FI clients that you have, how can they use data more strategically, rather than just get the individual transactions? And how do you think Mizuho can help them to use data more strategically?
DD: This is a complicated question, because you know, data is a new king, right? It's a goal, actually. So it's not only the banks, corporates are also using many, many tools in their own way to massage the data. And that's a matter of how the bank can basically complement that and support the corporate in what they're doing. So whether it is moving from, let's say MT to ISO, or whether it is moving into more straight through processing, and any way in which we can help the customer, right? The best thing is to understand the needs of the customer, which is what we are very good at. This is because we are very close to our customers, we talk the same language, we understand their needs, and we take it back and then we try to see what our synergies are and how we can basically achieve their vision. It's about their needs and their vision. It's not about what the bank wants to do. That's why we don't have a concept of the lab, where you know, people are just working in a silo. We take it from the market, and then we play it back to the customer. So that's the way we want to progress. I hope that answers you your question.
FBP: Last question. Let us discuss a little bit about the current landscape, macro-economic landscape, we know has an impacted case? What kind of adjustments are you making?
DD: That's actually, again, a very difficult question because the whole landscape, whether it is a political situation in different parts of the world, or whether it is a trade economic situation, we see it is an impact on the flows, because we are in the flow business and you can immediately see where the flows are changing. So right now, the impact, we are seeing the initial stage of that impact and we don't know how it will play out, right, but we need to be prepared. So whether the flows go from one corridor to the other, the good part is we are a global bank and we have centres, regions and countries, which can support all these transactions. See if the flow takes place or reroutes to another way of doing things or another location or geography, we are able to capture that because we are the centre of the customer. Like here, even after SIBOS, I’m going back to my office in London, and then talking to the people here to understand what changes they are seeing, and how we can replicate their changes into Asia because primarily we serve them in Asia a lot more, right. So I believe we're in the right spot to achieve what we want to achieve for the customer again,
FBP: Are there specific opportunities that you have identified?
DD: Oh yes, there are a lot. Even in the distributed ledger space, I met some companies who are doing fancy things, but in a very simple way. You know it doesn't have to be complicated. So we are talking to a few initiatives, but which ones we will take forward and which ones we will take more seriously. We have to go back and discuss in the bank. But there are a lot of opportunities we are talking about.
FBP: Thank you.
DD: Thank you so much. Always a pleasure.