COVID-19 pushes banking industry towards full digital banking

Man with protective mask
John Wong

For the banking sector COVID-19 came at the ‘not so right time’.

The virus arrived just as a recession was looming, an expected economic cycle, given that the last Great Recession peaked in 2009.

CEO of Fidelity Asia Bank in Malaysia, Tze Yow Wong (also known as John), has been working from home since March 18, when the government announced the lockdown.

“For us at the bank it’s BAU (business as usual) and work from home, as we are supported by digital infrastructure already,” said Mr Wong.

“We run on a digital platform with core banking sitting in the IBM private cloud offering.”

The change has, however, required Fidelity Asia Bank (FAB) to move away from paper processing and on to electronic communication, using Microsoft Teams for their regular meetings.

“We believe the virus outbreak will push the banking industry towards full digital banking and opportunities for new virtual banks will grow further,” said Mr Wong.

The key lesson he says he has learnt from the COVID-19 experience is that history always repeats.

“History will repeat itself in that every 10th year a recession will hit the economy and unexpected events, like this virus pandemic, will be a double whammy to both livelihood and the economy too.”

“No country can prevent this from occurring.”

“There is no immediate resolution but that of resilience and agility of actions to remove each issue encountered; and total collaboration. Work among governments and countries will ensure a more contained virus spread and a faster turnaround of the damaged economy.”

Mr Wong adds that another area of concern will be the sustainability of Mother Earth.

“It’s about time countries and organisation pay more attention to the environment which possibly or indirectly caused the virus spread.”

And one last word of warning: “Do not underestimate the virus impact as it’s mortality rate varies among countries. Stay vigilant. Best to stay home and avoid crowded places until a vaccine is made available. I am not a medical doctor but in all cases keeping proper hygiene helps.”

John Wong completed an MBA at Southern Cross University which was conferred in 2005.