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Tech in check: Standard Chartered’s head of digital banking Aizuddin Danian

Aizuddin Danian bin Izham Cheong (pictured), head of digital banking at Standard Chartered bank, is a banking veteran with 14 years of experience in the industry.

Before joining Standard Chartered, he was the head of group digital media management at Maybank, where he was responsible for non-transactional digital media across the Maybank Group. This included social media operations for Maybank, and other digital marketing media initiatives such as marketing mobile apps and websites.

This edition of Tech in check covers Aizuddin Danian’s old school experience with digital and trends he is excited about.

(Check out some previous editions of Tech in check here:
U Mobile’s head of marketing services Jenny Chin
Domino’s Pizza’s head of marketing Linda Hassan)

A+M: What was your first digital role like?

Aizuddin Danian: I think the dinosaurs were still alive then! I started out old school – building websites for clients. It was during the early days of the internet, real Web 1.0 stuff. In those days, it had just become a requirement that public listed companies needed to have a corporate website to publish information about their companies, such as annual reports.

The main lesson that I learnt then, which still holds true today 20 years later, is that UX is key. If you can get the UX right, then it is no longer just a website. It becomes a real digital asset that will drive value for the organisation in an active (eg. revenue and sales) and passive (eg. branding) way.

A+M: What was your biggest tech booboo?

Aizuddin Danian: It’s been a long career. Hard to pin down the “biggest”! But If I had to pick one that remains fresh in my mind to this day, it was when I was the midwife to what would become Malaysia’s largest banking social media community.

In the early days of that experience, we had not yet figured out how to speak in the lingo of “social media”, we spoke too much like a bunch of bankers on social media, and that really turned people off. We had all the technology, all the policies, all the governance in place – yet when it comes down to it, it’s rarely the “tech” that leads to the booboo, it’s the people behind the tech.

So, the audience had a bit of fun at our expense, the memes and jokes from the Twitterati were viral for a day or two. We learnt how to laugh with them, we learnt how to speak more naturally over the medium, and things got better from there.

A+M: How did you overcome it and what did you learn from it?

Aizuddin Danian: It comes back to the user experience. When the user doesn’t receive the experience they expect, the reaction can be unpredictable at best, and negative at worst.

In today’s world of digital word of mouth, brands need to be able to quickly accept feedback and respond in kind.

The challenge is to turn a difficult situation into an opportunity to show your audience that you’re genuine and sincere in addressing their concerns. Forgiveness only happens when the brand can demonstrate this ability.

A+M: What are some of the common challenges you face with digital today?

Aizuddin Danian: The main challenge with digital banking is that customers need us but no one really looks forward to banking. Bill Gates said it best, “We need banking, but we don’t need banks anymore.” That’s the environment that we’re operating in, and we need to adapt to it.

For example, at Standard Chartered, we’ve spent thousands of hours researching and understanding the needs of the affluent customer segment, including their digital needs and wants. We do this because the user experience matters, and we want to make their digital experience with us as frictionless as possible.

So, we started with a question and a challenge to ourselves, “Can you complete that transaction in 60 seconds?” That’s the test we have applied to our most frequently used online services, and we have built them to answer that question with a resounding, “YES”, to meet our customers’ expectations.

With our new Standard Chartered mobile app, you can view your balances and transactions with a single tap. Online local instant fund transfers are easy and fast and free. It’s so easy, it’s almost effortless. That’s the experience customers want and that’s what we strive to deliver.

A+M: Are there any digital trends which excite you or that you are wary of?

Aizuddin Danian: Blockchain technology, the concept of the distributed ledger – that really excites me as the applications have real world long-term significance. It has the potential to affect so many functions that banks perform today by making it faster, more secure and cost efficient. It will take a short while for the industry to fully digest blockchain and begin rolling out applications, but I believe when things begin in earnest, the growth and opportunity will be explosive.

In 2015, Standard Chartered began collaborating with Ripple, a digital media, broadcast and commerce company. Together, we completed the proof of concept to deliver the world’s first application of distributed ledger technology to enhance the overall security of trade finance invoicing. Since then, we have launched the first RippleNet cross-border payment service for corporates between Singapore and India.

It’s the beginning of great change, and I personally believe we are at the cusp of some amazing opportunities just over the horizon.

A+M: Any top tips for marketers and brands embracing digital?

Aizuddin Danian: I’ll take a tip from Nike: “Just do it”. No matter how ready you think you are, you will never be as ready as you need to be. And, honestly, that’s OK. Behave with integrity and transparency, and your customers will love you for it.

Learn from the unique experiences each brand will go through in its digital journey, and apply those lessons to incrementally improve your user experience.

No one expects you to be perfect on day one, but you will be expected to keep moving forward. Embrace it, be digital. Pretty soon you will no longer have a choice. Good luck, and enjoy the ride.

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