Change or be changed. Not just the banks but us too.

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I brought my family to the pasar malam (night market) in Setia Alam last weekend. It was indeed longer than even the Taman Connaught one. After 2 hours of stopping, buying, viewing, eating and drinking, we did not finish walking till the end. We did NOT pay money throughout the night. BOOST was there and what surprised me was that at least 50 percent of all the stalls in the night market were having ‘Boost’ sign on their stall. I bought gifts for my daughter and son using my phone. My wife bought two ice-creams for my family using my phone. I bought a smartphone car charger plug using my smartphone! Okay, it was all through Boost. It was RM8 free for all new sign-ups and just for the night market, RM1 is equal to RM5. In other words, if I were to buy RM5 worth of stuff, I needed to pay only RM1 for the night! So, RM2 in Boost is equal to RM10 at the stall. While I have no idea how much Boost needed to spend on this marketing campaign but I can safely say that more than half of everyone was buying stuffs WITHOUT cash. A close friend told me that it was so hard to use her cash in China. It was e-wallet all the way! So, is this the future? Looking at China, I think so even if this is not yet the case in many advanced countries around the world.
Coming back to Malaysia, our traditional banks. Bank Negara Malaysia Governor Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim gave a subtle warning to financial institutions in Malaysia days ago. He said that financial institutions must be aware of the innovations that will continue to penetrate the traditional markets which has been served for a long time by the banks. He said, “Using the disguise of being tied by regulations is not a valid excuse.” He said this during the his keynote address “Public policy perspective – Some thoughts and contemplations from a central banker,”at the 40th Harvard Business School Alumni Club Malaysia anniversary dinner last Friday. Full article in TheStar online here. He added,  “We have raised this many times, that the central bank will not hinder innovations in the banking system including those by non-banking institutions. So beware. Those bankers who are complacent and meek might experience the rug being pulled from underneath them.” He further elaborated, “Solutions that not only deliver better experience for consumers, but that better align the responsibilities that we all carry as responsible citizens, to lift people out of poverty, provide fellow Malaysians a decent living standard, eliminate discrimination and protect our environment.” Full article in TheStar online here. 
I personally think it is not just the banks which should take note but most Malaysians should as well. When we look around the world today, the pace of technology is quite scary. Do you know that chatbots are already able to handle most basic customer service conversations a few years ago? Robots will replace a lot of the manual jobs that we are doing today. This is an article in CNN giving us such a warning. Are we STILL doing the same thing everyday? Actually, the most important thing would still be, are we investing in ourselves? Keep ourselves updated and keep upgrading our knowledge and skills? Are we following what many in the advanced countries are doing? For example, investing in a property since it’s almost a certainty that it’s a better hedge than just keeping cash under the pillow? The environment may not change overnight but no one knows when is the tipping point. Be prepared! Happy preparing.
written on 11 Feb 2018

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