Meraj Qazi will be hosting the Financial Services Marketing Forum in Hong Kong. He joined the organisers for a Q&A around some of the key topics and sessions of the day.
Our opening session looks at key financial trends and growth areas in Asia. Where do you feel the biggest changes will be coming from?
"Mobile technology. The adoption of mobile phones is both strengthening and disrupting financial institutions in Asia. In emerging markets, it's drawing in new customers as mobile banking and micro-lending become increasingly accessible to underprivileged populations. In more developed countries, it's disrupting traditional models as tech companies like Tencent, Baidu, and Alibaba gain adoption for their payments, loans, and investment services. In short, mobile technology is creating a big change in the way everyday people manage their finances and I can see this leading to a lot of innovation and regulation over the coming years."
Do you think that FinTech is a threat or opportunity for established Financial Institutions?
"Opportunity. FinTech is going to draw out a host of new innovations for the financial services industry. Disruptive companies tend to come from the edges, doing a few things differently and gaining a large following with their new ideas. However, it usually takes some time for those ideas to take hold and change the broader base of the industry. That time period represents a big opportunity for the establishment to invest in and learn from these new startups. More and more we're seeing this story play out where legacy titans are forming deep collaborations with disruptive startups. I can list a few like Visa investing in Stripe, Goldman's backing of Symphony, and a several banks investing in Square, but the list goes on and there will be many more to come."
Which are the new exciting digital channels available for conversing with your consumers?
"Messaging. With Line, WeChat and Kakaotalk, Asia has led the world in messaging innovation. For brands, these platforms represent a big opportunity to converse with their customers on a personal level, and we've seen some great examples of this already happening. Banks like ICBC have created a digital branch within WeChat and a number of Korean banks have banded together to launch mobile wallet services on Kakaotalk. There will be a lot more movement in this space over the coming years for both brands and the platforms themselves. I'm looking forward to new innovations on both sides."
How can companies take their sponsorship strategies further through engaging activation?
"Focus on customer experience. At WSJ, we've brought the customer into focus through our Customer Knowledge Program where we're diving into our customers' minds to figure out who they are, what they want, and how we can craft the right experience for them. From the moment a customer sees our new “Make Time” marketing campaign, through to signing up for their first WSJ+ events, we want our customers to experience WSJ in a way that feels natural and adds tremendous value to their lives."
Mobile is now viewed as essential, who is being innovative in this field?
"With a growing part of the world accessing content exclusively on their phones, the two key trends for brands has been in designing content native to mobile, and building real world experiences that compel people to take out their phones and share. The best examples of these that I've seen are Bank of America teaching their customers #bettermoneyhabits through short videos on Vine, and ANZ's GAYTM campaign which has won them thousands of shares across Instagram."
Which session are you looking forward to most when attending the Financial Services Marketing Forum?
"I'm looking forward to the Fintech session. I have an unhealthy obsession with technology, and I'm ready to feed the beast!"