2021 Special Report – Retail Banker International Asia Trailblazer Awards

Editor's Note

First off, many thanks to all participating banks in the 12th annual RBI Asia Trailblazer awards. In the most challenging of circumstances, banks across the region are deservedly recognised for the best of the best in retail banking.

Over 300 separate entries were received – a record for the event – from 25 countries. In all, 31 separate banks are recognised as winners, up from 17 last year. A further nine banks are recognised as highly commended this year.

To be able to recognise 40 banks in the awards this year, set against the background of the most challenging of business circumstances, is hugely encouraging. Not only must it be noted that the quantity of the entries truly did the event proud-the quality of the submissions this year was quite phenomenal.

So, a huge thank you to all of the banks for taking the time to participate in the 12th annual RBI Asia Trailblazer awards. And a massive thank you to the judges and my colleagues at MEED for the Herculean task of administering the entries and running the awards this year.

Union Bank of the Philippines: world class digital innovation

Not only are Maybank and Union Bank of the Philippines multiple winners, collecting six and four awards respectively, but they win the two highest profile awards.

Union Bank is recognised as the Asia Trailblazer of the Year 2021 for institutions. The bank has in many notable ways, been blazing a trail for innovation in a number of areas for many years. For example, the bank’s migration to the cloud began as long ago as 2016 as it started out on its first major digital transformation journey. The Union Bank cloud first strategy means that the bank is ahead of the curve in the drive to have a cloud-only infrastructure.

The bank’s cloud strategy has also come to the fore during the pandemic. In addition to enjoying an international reputation for putting the customer first and being at the forefront of innovation, the bank is recognised for its third-party partnerships. For example, it became the first bank in the country to join the Banking Industry Architecture Network (BIAN). And with ongoing success of its much admired fintech subsidiary UBX, Union Bank is truly a thoroughly deserved winner of the winner of the Asia Trailblazer of the year for institutions.

Dato John Chong: Asia Trailblazer of the Year

It is a pleasure to be able to recognise the contribution to the sector of Dato John Chong, winner of the individual award. He has led by example in a number of senior roles

since joining Maybank in 1993. Notably, his leadership resulted in establishing Maybank Group’s DCM business and leading it to its current top-ranking position in Malaysia, Asean and globally for sukuk.

Since October 2018 he has served as Group CEO Community Financial Services for the Maybank Group in which he spearheads Maybank’s community financial services business across all geographies offering products and services for wealth management, business banking, retail SME, digital, consumer, branch banking, sales and distribution. The range of product and services he oversees includes investment, bancassurance, mortgages and automobile loans, credit cards, deposits and business loans.

Take a bow DBS

For DBS to carry off ten award wins is a huge achievement including key categories for excellence in mobile banking, best innovation programme and best digital bank initiative.

Other significant multiple awards winners include Emirates NBD, Taishin International Bank, UOB, RHB Bank, Affin Bank, ICICI, RCBC and Alliance Bank.

Hearty congratulations again to all of the winners and here’s to the 13th annual Asia Trailblazer Awards in 2022, when hopefully we will able to celebrate with the winners in person.

Hearty congratulations again to all of the winners and here’s to the 12th annual Asia Trailblazer Awards in 2021.

Click here to download the 2021 Special Report; In-depth analysis of winning strategies and the mindsets that drive success inspired by the winning entries for the 12th Annual Retail Banker International Asia Trailblazer Summit and Awards.

Douglas Blakey


Retail Banker International