Mox Bank, a virtual lender backed by Standard Chartered, has the best mobile banking app in Hong Kong and Asia but lags behind its Western peers, according to a study carried out by a management consultancy firm.
Livi Bank, a virtual bank co-owned by Bank of China (Hong Kong), ranks second in the city, while Hang Seng Bank, a traditional lender that has aggressively promoted digital banking in recent years, takes the third spot.
HSBC Hong Kong, the biggest lender in the city, came fourth in the list of more than 100 global mobile banking apps previewed by the Post. Another branchless lender, WeLab Bank, was ranked fifth.
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The report, titled Sia Partners 2021 Mobile Banking Benchmark, looked at 85 criteria including functions, user experience and clients’ opinions to assess the performance of 114 mobile banking apps worldwide, with each getting a score from 0 to 20.
The South China Morning Post got an exclusive preview of the report before its publication later this month.
“Mox Bank’s app has attractive features and an easy-to-navigate design that offers a positive user experience. By continuing to build out a robust product offering to pair with its modern design, Mox bank will be well positioned to challenge global leaders,” said Etienne Ranwez, a manager in Sia Partners’ Hong Kong office, in an interview. Sia Partners, headquartered in Paris, describes itself as a next-generation management consulting firm.
Second-placed Livi’s mobile banking app has an easily operable interface paired with some unique service offerings and regionally-valuable partnerships, Ranwez said, while Hang Seng Bank’s apps have wide-ranging products and unique personal finance tools.
The study covers 16 local lenders, equally split between traditional banks and digital ones that only operate online and have no physical branches.
Hong Kong is the leader in Asia, accounting for seven of the top 10 apps in the region. Singapore’s DBS and Maybank, and the city state’s division of Standard Chartered took the remaining three places.
However, Hong Kong’s lenders are a long way behind peers in Europe, Britain, and Canada, the survey suggests.
Bank of East Asia, a 102-year old lender, came last among regional banks and 110th out of 114 worldwide.
“The Bank of East Asia ranks in the bottom 10 globally, and last regionally, driven by its lack of an end-to-end mobile account opening process, low interoperability with third-party services, limited user support channels, and [worse] overall feel than its competitors,” said Stephen Walsh, senior consultant at Sia Partners.
Globally, KBC, a traditional Belgian bank that has invested heavily in its app in the last couple of years, ranked top this year, ahead of last year’s champion, a virtual bank Revolut. This reflects the way virtual banks have forced traditional lenders to improve their digital offerings, Ranwez said.
Mox Bank came first in Hong Kong and Asia for ite mobile banking app. Photo: Chapterlux alt=Mox Bank came first in Hong Kong and Asia for ite mobile banking app. Photo: Chapterlux
For Hong Kong to catch up with international peers, the government would need to allow virtual banks to serve customers outside the city, he said. At present, the eight digital lenders can only serve Hong Kong residents.
“It is essential that Hong Kong banks, particularly the eight virtual banks, are allowed to provide services in other markets. The bigger the bank’s customer base, the better it will be able to collect the necessary data and insights to improve their services,” Ranwez said.
“We expect the whole mobile banking industry in Hong Kong to be taken to the next level thanks to the entry of virtual banks, as well as initiatives from the Hong Kong government and Hong Kong Monetary Authority such as the … central bank digital currency projects.”
This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2021 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
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