Monday,27 May 2024

Standard Bank’s Mkhwanazi: “The winners will be clients at the end of it”

5 min read

Interviewed By Siddharth Chandani

Crosby Mkhwanazi, group head, transactional products & services, wholesale clients, Standard Bank, speaks on cross border payments, remittances and modernisation of payments in Africa. He also shared Standard Bank's priority initiatives.


What are some of the main themes that you are getting out of SIBOS this year, and how much of those fit into sort of the pan-African context?

So massive conversations around the modernisation of payments and the evolution of payments across the world. In Africa, it's a big topic for us. For us things like cross border payments, remittances are incredibly important and then modernisation of payment rails, as well as a moving closer towards instant payments and the support for e- commerce is incredibly important. So that's been a big theme in SIBOS, which has a very strong relevance in our world in Africa and the services we provide. 

ESG obviously has emerged very strongly as a critical conversation piece in how financial services plays a far more strong and meaningful role in supporting the reduction of carbon emissions over time, which is a very urgent issue. And then obviously, governance has always been a strong point and continues to be a strong point and of course evolves through inclusiveness and other issues are also critically evolving. And then what's also been pleasing to see is conversations around diversity, which I haven't seen before. And aside was conference, we've seen the profile of women in payments, in financial institutions, which is fantastic, and I hope we see more of that in the coming years. 

Cybercrime and digital risk obviously are big themes as banking becomes more digital, cybercrime, and other types of criminal activities, obviously, that we as banks have to guard against and protect our clients, protect the financial system is massively important and I see that has evolved quite a lot in conversations as well at SIBOS. Digital transformation in every element is critical, whether it's conversations about data, cloud, the different types of fintech services that are now available, and becoming a lot more apparent and ubiquitous in the financial services, massive conversation in terms of how we evolve in that element. And of course, I think all of us have wrapped our heads around, what we have learned from the COVID pandemic and how things have shifted in the world of financial services and what can we learn from it and make sure that, the positive sides of it, we use them as more permanent shifts and transitions for us. 

Key priorities and initiatives that you are working on this year and possibly over the next 12 months?

Certainly the priorities for us start with client experience, so using technology to help all advance the client experience, I think is top of mind for ourselves at Standard Bank in transaction banking, is it is very important that we evolve to channels that are so much easier to use and so much more intuitive. We are building artificial intelligence, the usage of data for insights, is critically important, And then, of course, where we can leverage the power of cloud, I think it's important, And then the other piece, which is evolving in our spaces is massive focus on partnerships. So focusing on partnerships that will help evolve the client experience, I think, is absolutely important as well. So that's a massive focus, because that'll give, as I said earlier, acceleration in what we can provide a solution to clients rather than developing building and launching everything ourselves, I think those days, we are trying to leave behind, and then of course, instead of bank, looking to become a platform services organisation, meaning that a lot of what we do, we will provide ourselves, but it will also provide through non-traditional partners. And then, again, I would lastly say ESG as a topic is obviously incredibly important.  And then, of course, changing the way we do banking and the services we provide, to make sure that we are not only just contributing, but rather a driving force, in advancing the environmental agenda of the of the continent, as well as the rest of the world is important to us.

Outlook for 2022 for global transaction businesses amid uncertainty 

It's more about actually being dynamic and agile. So that's for us as a bank for our clients, as well as even governing institutions because I think it was a lot easier to predict the next few years a decade ago or two decades ago, there is so much change with us, even how we navigating out of COVID crisis, there are so many unknowns that we are working with and having hard, fast rules around what you're going to do in the next 12 to 18 months, I think is dangerous. But rather being prepared with information, with data and insight so that you can navigate quickly, I think is far more important. So, when we think about the outlook, it's about the evolution of data and insights, there is a lot more real time. 

Also, I think economic growth and recovery out of COVID-19, I think is important for everybody. So economic growth has always been important, but the acceleration of economic growth is critical. Localization of investment is becoming an interesting theme. So we're seeing a lot more multinationals through various conversations with the community they serve, with government, making sure that there is a portion of their capital being deployed locally, so that local investors with retail or institutional investors are able to invest so that the rewards and the commercial benefits from some of these massive infrastructure programmes are also to benefit of local investors as well. We would like conversations around how we have investments that have a larger participation from local investors, as well as brings more commercial benefits to everybody. So those are massive changes that we see going forward.

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