How Unifying Fragment Data Through Partnerships Improves Regional Capital Flows for Standard Chartered Bank

Kamayini Kaul
Kamayini Kaul

The world is shrinking. With the continued proliferation of increasingly advanced digital technology and with the ongoing and exponential growth of big data, the globe is becoming smaller, yet the complexities when dealing with the mountains of data we have at our fingertips are on the rise.

The ASEAN region alone is home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies with some 680 million consumers in member countries alone. The region boasts technologically-savvy urbanites, mobile phone-wielding small business owners, and millions of unbanked households, presenting compelling market opportunities to any global business.

However, these opportunities can be difficult to harness and understand, with consumer data often highly fragmented and spread across disparate sources.

Advancements in the digital economy have the potential to accelerate economic growth and expand markets for ASEAN firms beyond their national boundaries. However, the rapid growth of data volumes and types and continuing regulatory strongholds forcing data localization are making this essential ingredient to economic vitality less reliable and disjointed.

While this presents an array of new challenges, it is also opening up compelling opportunities for global firms to think outside the box.

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Standard Chartered’s white paper “Resetting Globalisation: Catalysts for Change” released in 2023 found that three-quarters of business leaders believe that cross-border data flows have been good for the global economy. Data flows, which touch a broad range of sectors including e-commerce, finance, manufacturing, healthcare, and even agriculture, are critical to global trade and the transfer of innovation and communication between markets.

In recent years, Standard Chartered has entered a series of partnerships aimed at improving customer service, developing new products for a more digitally fluent generation of customers, and helping collate data and insights into consumer habits and expectations. This was done while ensuring consented and compliant use of consumer data while also making sure core banking systems are more resilient to a myriad of threat vectors.

Financial services products that embrace this new world order have the potential to help 1 billion people participate better in the global economy and the associated data will enable global firms to understand the consumer demand and touchpoints that are ripe for development. However, success hinges on the careful and transparent use of client data, while ensuring disruptive technologies like AI are used with transparency, ethics, and trust.

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In 2020, we embarked on a 10-year, US$ 500 million partnership with consumer finance startup Atome to support the regional expansion of the company’s AI-based ecosystem of merchants and clients. This offering provides clients with an efficient consumer finance solution at the point of sale while meeting the regulatory requirements of various jurisdictions and risk management by using machine learning.

Through such collaborations, firms gain access to a range of invaluable data points, shaping further product development and empowering consumers to mold the future direction of financial technology and products.

In September last year, we extended this partnership model with Indonesia-based Bukalapak to offer online banking through its “bank-in-a-box” services to the e-commerce company’s 20 million business owners and 110 million consumers.

“Bank in a box” lets users open an account in about five minutes while offering high-interest savings products and other benefits to the estimated 138 million Indonesian adults thought to have little or no access to bank services previously. Of the users that the Bukalapak partnership attracted, 98% were new-to-bank clients for Standard Chartered.

Such partnerships are not only designed to grow and inform firms about trends in emerging markets but also to integrate the otherwise very fragmented consumer data landscape across the region.

In Singapore, a mature financial hub, the city-state’s first digitally native bank Trust Bank, a joint venture between Standard Chartered and Singapore-based FairPrice Group, attracted 100,000 new clients during the two weeks following its launch in September last year, leading the bank to gather additional insights in a crowded fintech space.

Controlled and responsible experimentation

While firms all around the world are growing partnerships that harness rapid technological advancement, they are doing so amid a backdrop of increasingly strict oversight of data and increasing awareness of the promises as well as challenges that AI presents.

As companies race to deploy AI at scale to create personalized omnichannel product offerings, one-click client onboarding, and proactive risk surveillance and management, there must be more accountable governance of these newer technologies and the degree to which they leverage and share cross-sector consumer data at scale.

We view banking as a key enabler of trusted data-sharing and have invested in a significant multi-year program to uplift the bank’s data and AI governance framework including its policies, standards, and data management controls to ensure we meet relevant regulations across the various jurisdictions.

The initiatives include changes to our privacy notices, cookie policy, and consent management; and internal controls around data transfers, data access, records keeping, data quality, and responsible AI, to name a few.

While financial services players are forging forward to better serve and tailor products fit for an emerging client base, the next 12 months are expected to see a period of rapid but controlled experimentation that taps into the expertise of technology vendors, cloud providers, and several consumer partners.

We expect to see rapid innovation in this space along with public-private partnerships to use and co-develop open-source explainable AI models to better govern and risk-secure banking systems globally.

Responsible and transparent use of consumer data along with AI offers a sizable opportunity to accelerate economic growth and improve citizens' and businesses' access to capital and financial products in dynamic emerging markets.

We believe ‘consumer market stacks’ will be the choice over traditional ‘technology stacks’ and trusted regional data-sharing, more than data interoperability, will be crucial.

In our bid to become a data-driven, client-centric, and digital bank of choice, Standard Chartered is ready to play its part.

About the Author:

Kamayini Kaul joined Standard Chartered Bank as Group Chief Data Officer in April 2023 to play a key role in the Bank’s transformation strategy – with a focus on sustainable digital growth and Data strategy delivery.

Prior to joining Standard Chartered, Kaul was Global Head of Information Insights and Analytics at CSL Limited, where she was accountable for value creation from data assets and ecosystems in support of their growth and digital transformation agenda. With over 20 years of experience, she has also served in numerous data and analytics leadership roles at large companies such as GE Healthcare, Santander Holdings, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, and Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS).

Starting her journey in the corporate world as an engineer, Kaul has always been an evangelist of corporate initiatives focused on Women in Technology, STEM, and Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). She served as the Executive Sponsor for the Women in Data efforts at BMS and has been an active contributor and leader to varied D&I initiatives throughout her career.

She received her MBA in Marketing, Strategy, and Entrepreneurship from the Kellogg School of Business, in Chicago, Illinois, and an MS in Computer Science from the University of Chicago.

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