While 2007 and the early months of 2008 saw banks focus mainly on growing market share, 2009 will instead see financial houses in the Asia Pacific channel their IT resources into surviving the current economic crisis, according to a report by research firm Financial Insights.
Noting that the Asia Pacific will continue to be an important region for banks, due to its large domestic markets, recent wealth accumulation, relatively stringent economic and corporate regulations and pockets of under-served banking segments, the report stated that banks in the region will be devising counter-cyclical technology initiatives to cope with the downturn. Such initiatives include portfolio analytics, asset-liability management and credit collections and recovery.
"Banks have recognised that the modes of operation during boom times are ineffective in a crisis environment," said Li-May Chew, senior research manager, Financial Insights Asia Pacific. "IT optimisation will be the key concern for bank IT leaders as they search for clarity in their existing technology assets, and see how these can be integrated more effectively to meet current and future requirements."
Listing IT optimisation, risk management and compliance, customer centricity and payments as the top four strategic initiatives for Asia-Pacific banks in 2009, the report stated that technology spending for banks in the region this year is still expected to increase from last year, albeit at a much lower growth rate compared to previous years.
According to the report, IT projects that will take priority for Asia-Pacific banks this year include virtualisation and software-as-a-service (better known as SaaS). Also ranking high on the agenda are IT deployments centred on credit collections and recovery, customer loyalty and customer retention.
"Importantly, banks have to find ways to generate new demand and find new sources of income," said Michael Araneta, senior research manager, Financial Insights Asia Pacific. "Technology imperatives here include CRM [customer relationship management] and customer-centric projects, and payments initiatives to generate fee income."