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AWS commits to helping Southeast Asian banks take full advantage of the cloud

Nurdianah Md Nur
Nurdianah Md Nur11/29/2022 10:42 PM GMT+08  • 8 min read
AWS commits to helping Southeast Asian banks take full advantage of the cloud
AWS is helping digital banks like Singapore's Trust Bank and Vietnam's Timo achieve their goals, while providing cloud training programmes for FSIs. Photo: Pexels
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Cloud is becoming a key strategy for financial services institutions (FSIs) to attain and maintain a competitive advantage in digital financial services, with 92% of banks in Asia Pacific planning to increase their cloud spending this year. This is according to the International Data Corp’s (IDC) Banking Cloud Trends in Asia/Pacific in 2022: Cloud Becomes Truly Business-Critical report.

However, adopting the cloud comes with challenges, which is why Southeast Asia banks are increasingly turning to Amazon Web Services (AWS) to ensure they can fully benefit from the cloud.

“While there isn't an industry vertical or a customer of any size that isn't touching the cloud, we’ve seen huge momentum in the financial services sector over the last few years. One of the drivers of that momentum has been this idea of digital banking, with new digital banking licences being granted across Southeast Asia,” says Conor McNamara, AWS’s managing director for ASEAN, at a media briefing held at AWS re:Invent 2022 in Las Vegas today.

He continues: “One of the reasons FSI customers overwhelmingly choose AWS for digital banking is not only that we have the most resilient cloud or the strongest partnerships with the organisations like Thought Machine or MongoDB, but also that we have a team of people that is helping customers start from an idea to building a production-ready, regulatory compliant, scalable solution in the cloud.

“[It’s] really important [that we offer] the technology [as well as] access to experts from a public policy standpoint, to security architects, to our professional services team and our FSI experts. We believe that having that team on the ground close to those customers is a big differentiator.”

Helping Trust Bank meet accelerating growth in Singapore

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Singapore’s Trust Bank is one of the digitally-native banks that has onboarded more than 300,000 customers within two months of its launch on AWS.

“Trust Bank aims to provide an easy-to-use, rewarding, and transparent banking experience that brings real value to our customers. In the cloud, we can scale easily to onboard high numbers of new accounts, and using AWS, we can also rapidly take action on customer feedback, which is crucial for a fast-growing, modern digitally-native bank,” says Rajay Rai, chief information officer at Trust Bank.

Powered by AWS, Trust Bank offers a simple user interface and onboarding times of less than three minutes for a savings account and no more than four minutes for a credit card. It also delivered the first-to-market numberless credit card that allows customers to choose their repayment date, and the ability to switch between credit and debit cards on the app for dual account holders, removing the need for users to carry multiple cards.

See also: The new face of customer service: AI-powered call centres

Trust Bank is also building digital products on AWS, including an in-app spend tracker that allows real-time tracking of Linkpoints earned. Linkpoints are loyalty points accumulated with every spend at FairPrice and other Link partners, which customers can then redeem to offset their purchases with instant dollar savings.

Since Trust Bank is hosted in the AWS Asia Pacific (Singapore) Region, it can provide its customers with a banking platform supported across multiple Availability Zones and ultra-low latency for a seamless banking experience while assisting the bank in meeting data residency compliance requirements.

Additionally, Trust Bank uses Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) – a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud – to easily scale to cater to growing numbers of new accounts and services.

Meanwhile, Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) – a service that helps consumers set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud – enables Trust Bank to store real-time data, including consumer feedback and transaction history. This data helps the bank upgrade its customer experience with improvements to its app, including the ability for customers to set their credit limit and choose their credit card repayment dates.

Trust Bank selected AWS partners GFT and Sourced Group to help build and deploy the digitally-native bank on AWS. It also leveraged Thought Machine as its core banking technology provider.

Besides that, Trust Bank is using AWS Marketplace, a curated digital software catalogue, to find, test, buy, and deploy third-party software. This software purchase experience increases the bank’s ability to quickly respond to consumers’ needs by innovating new banking experiences in Singapore.

“Using AWS, Trust Bank is able to innovate and iterate quickly to implement solutions like customised credit limits and an integrated loyalty program, which create engaging, intuitive, and rewarding consumer experiences. We are excited to continue supporting Trust Bank in their mission to reinvent digital banking with the highest level of security and scalability here in Singapore,” says Peter Murray, head of FSI for ASEAN at AWS.

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Supporting Timo Bank in its financial inclusion quest in Vietnam

AWS is also working with Timo – a digital bank in Vietnam – to help it drive economic empowerment by delivering personalised mobile banking services to the Vietnamese population, of which 69% are unbanked.

Working with AWS partner Mambu, Timo built an agile, scalable, and secure environment to run its core financial applications in the cloud, including banking, payments, and mobile app.

With Amazon EC2 and Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Services (Amazon EKS, which is a managed container service), Timo easily scales workloads on demand. This scalability supports an expected tenfold increase in Timo's transactions by 2025, allowing more customers in Vietnam to easily transfer funds between mobile bank accounts or pay merchants online.

To develop new financial solutions that help customers thrive, Timo built a data lake using Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), a cloud object storage service, and AWS Glue, a serverless data integration service. This data lake securely and compliantly stores Timo's structured and unstructured data on customer demographics and financial behaviour at scale.

Timo also leverages Amazon SageMaker to build, train, and deploy machine learning models. This enables the digital bank to provide personalised financial services using customer data stored in the lake. For example, Timo can provide savings recommendations and partner discounts to customers based on their spending habits, driving economic empowerment.

Since technology is only as good as its users, Timo worked with AWS to train 60 cloud team members and IT members in architecting, developing, security, big data, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning on AWS.

During those classes, discussions about Timo's current cloud practices helped the teams verify their understanding and application of AWS services while learning and adopting new cloud capabilities to innovate new digital financial services.

This training increased productivity for Timo’s cloud team with infrastructure automation, application deployment, and IT management using AWS without increasing the headcount of Timo's cloud team.

"AWS helped us implement our entire banking platform in the cloud in less than six months. Using the cloud helps us deliver new and meaningful digital financial services to our customers faster. Our customer base is growing rapidly, and on AWS, we can confidently scale to meet the rising demand for digital financial services, leveraging the latest technology to set the benchmark in digital banking,” states Alan Barker, Chief Technology Officer at Timo.

AWS’S Murray adds: “Digital banks like Timo are mission focused to serve customers, drive financial inclusion and economic empowerment. Timo has developed a unique banking proposition on AWS, including services that solve customer pain points working backwards from the mission to develop economic empowerment. We are excited to support Timo as the company grows… and look forward to seeing the already thriving Vietnamese financial services technology community evolve."

Helping to close the cloud skills gap in FSI

To address the increasing demand for training content tailored to specific industry needs, AWS has launched AWS Industry Quest at AWS re:Invent 2022.

As part of the paid digital subscription, AWS Industry Quest uses interactive, game-based learning to help learners and organisations build industry solutions on AWS. The first version is focused on the financial services sector, and will look to help FSI professionals develop solutions for fraud prevention, grid computing for capital markets, serverless deposit accounts, and more. The National Australia Bank (NAB) is the first global beta customer of the service.

Besides that, AWS is also offering AWS Skills Guild, a comprehensive cloud skills training programme tailor-made for an organisation’s unique skilling needs. Vietnam’s Techcombank is one bank that has been leveraging the programme to upskill its employees.

Techcombank has made self-paced cloud skills training available to all employees. It also had AWS instructors running over 100 live training classes to upskill 2,800 employees and executives to date.

AWS also offers other forms of upskilling initiatives for FSIs. For instance, AWS developed a tailored training programme for Singapore’s Singlife with Aviva (Singlife), which includes hands-on AWS JAM sessions where employees experience game-based learning.

“Research by Alpha Beta, commissioned by AWS, mentioned that 86 million people within Asia Pacific and Japan will require digital training in the next year. We’ve been able to train 700,000 individuals across ASEAN since 2017. It's a very significant accomplishment, and we continue to build further efforts and relationships across every country within ASEAN,” says Eric Conrad, AWS’s regional managing director of the worldwide public sector for ASEAN, at a media briefing at AWS re:Invent 2022.

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