Banks have to be nimble like tech firms, DBS CEO says

Banks have to be like technology companies, the CEO of Southeast Asia’s largest lender said on Tuesday, amid rising competition from rivals such as Chinese tech giant Alibaba with its rapidly growing financial services.

This means that banks have to do a few things: “Embrace” the same technology as they do, and change their culture to be “like a startup,” DBS CEO Piyush Gupta told CNBC on “Squawk Box.”

One, we got to be able to embrace the same technology that these technology firms do. That’s not tough, because technology is freely available. Today you go to Amazon’s website and you can get everything, open source gives you everything. But you have to be willing to re-architect your fundamental technology to be like a tech firm,” he said.

Gupta added: “You got to make a culture change. You’ve got to be like a fintech or like a start-up. You’ve got to be nimble; you’ve got to be willing to take some risks, you’ve got to have small groups of people who can really be entrepreneurs in the context and framework of a large company.

If banks can achieve some of these things, he said, there is “no reason why you can’t compete with the technology platforms.”

That said, traditional banks still have some things going for them, Gupta declared.

He added that banks possess good risk management practices whether it is liquidity risk, market risk or credit risk, and with “plumping pipes” already in place.

So it’s not like we come to this challenge unarmed. Even the fast growing fintechs find they wind up working with banks, for our clearing and settlement capabilities. We have presence everywhere.

Author: Yash Hirani

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