Equalising access to banking

December 14, 2021 | 12:39
Vietnam's very first digital banking platform, Timo has rapidly evolved since 2015 to become the No.1 digital bank in the market. Henry Nguyen, CEO of Timo Digital Bank talked with Bich Ngoc about the company’s strategy to cooperate with different partners to co-develop the still fledgeling field in Vietnam.

COVID-19 has taken a serious toll on the economy and businesses. How has it shifted consumer behaviour regarding contactless payment?

Henry Nguyen, CEO of Timo Digital Bank
Henry Nguyen, CEO of Timo Digital Bank

By necessity and then by force of habit created by four months of lockdown, consumer behaviour has evolved and changed rapidly. The pandemic forced people to interact and transact virtually, greatly accelerating online transactions and electronic payments. Avoiding face-to-face interactions has driven more rapid adoption of cashless and contactless payments among consumers – and these newly acquired behaviours will remain even after the pandemic.

Along with adapting to the new normal of life with the pandemic, electronic transactions are reaching the tipping point. Consumers are demanding that their banking and financial services respond to their needs and keep up with the rapid changes in how they manage the transactions in their lives. At Timo, we are building a modern banking service that is responsive to this consumer demand – one that is accessible, relevant, and valuable to our customers.

We know that banking does not exist in isolation and believe in the concept of social banking. For us, this begins with small shifts in mindsets, thinking about connecting people instead of just bank accounts. This extends all the way to big questions like how banking can be made more valuable and relevant to customers. Most of all, our team at Timo is driven by making the lives of our customers better and more prosperous.

During the strict lockdowns, we have worked on many platforms such as Zalo Connect to help people adapt to the difficult environment where transactions cannot happen face-to-face. We made sure our Timo customers were able to process all peer-to-peer transactions easily and quickly.

How is Timo partnering up with other financial institutions, such as banks and e-wallets in Vietnam?

Timo believes that a robust digital ecosystem will make it easier for fintech businesses to develop faster and connect with modern digital customers in a more engaging way. A digital ecosystem built on strong partnerships will enhance the value that we all create for our customers, and accelerate the growth and adoption of our services. It is a win-win approach where one plus one is greater than two.

Like a lot of tech startups, we are always moving as fast as we can to develop the best possible products for our customers. However, we also know the power and value of partnerships and are nourishing an ever-growing network of partners. We want to create synergistic values for Timo, our partners, and our entire universe of users. Of course, building these networks takes tremendous time and effort. It is not just technology, it is a lot of product work and interfacing between the two companies.

In addition to developing more products and constantly improving quality and accessibility, Timo and our strategic partners will continue building our ecosystem to offer a range of convenient services while ensuring the customer needs and experience are at the centre of it all.

Large parts of the Vietnamese population are still unbanked and underbanked. How can Timo’s non-cash services help this segment achieve financial inclusion?

Financial inclusion is one of our main missions at Timo. As traditional banking services can be operationally expensive, they tend to ignore customers on the lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder. Timo believes all people in Vietnam should have access to no-fee banking services and become more integrated into the formal economy.

Offering no-cost banking services to all of our customers means there is one less barrier for them to perform electronic and cashless transactions and therefore be a part of the rapidly growing digital economy. To achieve this, a big part of our work is to educate and provide access to basic banking services.

This means developing and applying the latest technologies to serve a larger segment of the population in a low-cost way.

In the end, the most important thing we focus on is how to best serve our customers so that their financial lives can be easier to manage, more accessible and convenient, and simply richer and more valuable. Technology is just one of many tools to do this. It is our team at Timo and their drive to serve our customers who are making this happen. They too are customers, and they want to make a great product that makes everyone’s life better.

At Timo, we work hard to identify the problems and challenges that banking customers are facing every day. Being customer-centric is a core part of our ethos. Regardless of the barriers we face in solving these problems, we know we must continue to keep improving every day to serve our customers and earn their trust. Winning our customers’ trust and love is critical to our long-term success.

By Bich Ngoc

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