The implications of coronavirus epidemic have been far-reaching, with some experts even predicting the onset of a global recession. As China started losing trade, the impact has hit the Asian economy. The banking sector too is not left alone.
Reserve Bank of India governor Shaktikanta Das recently warned Indian banks to be prepared. LiveMint reported him stating: “The IMF is analysing the impact of the coronavirus on global growth, which is on a slowdown mode. If global growth slows down further, it will impact the health of banks because slowing growth creates more stress in the corporate sector. In this environment, banks should focus on prudent lending.”
In this context, some banks in Asia are setting a new trend in banking, which allows customers to carry out various transactions without needing to visit a branch physically. DBS’ contact-free banking is an excellent case in point. Such initiatives not only help the customers continue using banking services without any apprehension, but it’s also a great strategy for banks to ensure business as usual.
These measures, said the bank, are a mix of financial relief packages and a slew of digital initiatives to enable companies to fast track their digital adoption and transaction fulfilment needs in the face of business continuity measures currently adopted by most companies.
Some of these initiatives are focused on minimizing physical handling and manual processes. For instance, the bank announced Digitalisation of 11 common trade financing processes to reduce the need to be reliant on physical over-the-counter trade processing and 50 free FAST transactions a month to promote reduced physical handling of cheques (up from 30 free FAST transactions a month). As a major step, it also announced collateral-free Digital Business Loan of up to SGD50,000, disbursed within 24 hours of loan acceptance.
In addition to these measures, the bank has also introduced various awareness creation programs including Webinars and customised teach-ins to train customers on how to use and benefit from the convenience that the new digital capabilities afford. The bank also announced the digitalisation of the bank’s popular DBS SME Academy’s training courses so that upskilling and learning can still continue in the safety of customers’ homes and offices
Tan Su Shan, Group Head of Institutional Banking, DBS said that the latest measures are aimed at helping SMEs and corporates facing the challenging reality of the COVID-19 situation. This includes disrupted supply chains, falling customer demand, cash flow issues and difficulties in fulfilling transactions with physical documents. “Both the short-term financing relief packages and the longer-term digital adoption plans that are being made available to clients now will help businesses with their immediate cash flow needs and their longer term digital transformation efforts which should continue even in the face of economic headwinds,” Tan added.