2022 Winner – Bank BRI Virtual account serves corporate clients – Retail Banker International Asia Trailblazer Awards




PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI: Persero) Tbk won Best Current Account Offering at the virtual RBI Trailblazer Awards 2022 for their virtualization efforts to increase registration and functionality of virtual account offerings.

It is in response to this trend that PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI: Persero) Tbk has a virtual account for its mainly corporate clients that has been updated to continue to serve their needs. It uses technology to protect and enhance the state-owned bank’s position in Indonesia.

A virtual account (VA) is a banking service facility that is provided to a current account in the form of a virtual code, in order to make it easier for customers to receive and make payments from many and to parties without any complicated onboarding or processing issues.

VAs ensure an efficient and real-time fund management process for businesses, helping their cash collection optimization and management efforts and help to ensure trade flow payments are in the supply chain when they are needed. Fund flows often mimic the firm’s organizational structure and a VA is flexible enough to meet the differing needs of different clients.

Last year, BRI enhanced its VA Online registration system and portal to make it easier for controllers to operate it even while a new business code is being set up. This speeds up the business process of acquiring new customers.

The continuous development of the VA (Virtual Account) product in 2021 has positively impacted:

  • transaction volume up to almost 185%
  • frequency up to nearly 73%, and
  • fee-based income (up to almost 85%)

The initiative is also intended to accelerate the integration process of VA Online as a refreshed controller portal can now handle direct inputs, even while issuing a new code, to ensure that the controller can easily add and manage the parameter such as:

  • User names management
  • Inquiry URL web links
  • Payment URLs
  • App IDs
  • App passwords
  • Network type & so

This positively impacts ease-of-user customer satisfaction levels and the number of new services and functions that can quickly be added to the refreshed technology stack. The risk mitigation system for VA transactions has also been enhanced to further reduce any potential for fraud.

Typically, there are three types of virtual account:

  1. VA regular: no connection or customer system development requirement.
  2. VA web service: replies on the use of open application programming interfaces (APIs) to operate.
  1. VA online: this requires Host-to-Host (H2H) integration to ensure that the customer’s system, often its enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, aligns with the bank’s own technology stack – or at the very least can be easily updated.

Connectivity is crucial. The portal management functionality added by BRI make it much easier to achieve. It can be specified with or without a payment gateway, which can act as a facilitator or aggregator to aid cash optimization. The VA Online approach favours electronic e-commerce companies with a high intensity of transactions.

It therefore has considerable scope to progress customers along its value chain as the economy bounces back from the Covid-19 outbreak


In this Q&A interview with Ong Lay Choo, Managing Director, Head, Consumer, Private and Business Banking, Hong Kong at Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited (“SCBHK”), she talks about its response to the on-going Covid-19 pandemic and how the event accelerated its investment and deployment of self-serve digital tools. The bank’s continuing embrace of technology, organizational change, and internal training initiatives to up-skills staff for the digital future are also addressed

Q1: Covid-19 has hit economies & workers worldwide: How’s it impacted: (i) Your company & staff? What lessons have you learnt?

A1: One of the things that Covid-19 has taught us is that people, agility and resilience are key to survival and success. The pandemic has forced us to think outside the box regarding our client engagement, operating model, speed of digital transformation, staff skills and about our leadership culture as well.

I promptly activated work from home (WFH) arrangements during the initial phase of the emergency for both frontline and back-office staff to protect their health and safety. Allowances were also speedily given to employees to purchase home-office equipment, enabling them to work effectively from home.

For the few staff who had to be in the office due to the nature of their job, stringent protective measures were adopted, which included distributing free rapid test kits and masks daily, providing complimentary meals, and offering extra rest days each week to all branch, IT or service centre colleagues who had to be in. Flexibility and understanding were shown to those that needed to be there, especially as in-branch numbers declined and digital service channels grew.

Q2. How has Covid-19 hit your business?

A2. In terms of our volumes, loans, and business we’ve been fine. Operationally, the surge in clients switching to a digital-first mindset has vastly accelerated the pace of digital adoption across all our products and services.

Leveraging this opportunity, we stepped up our digital transformation at SCBHK by prioritizing resources towards capabilities and solutions that enable clients to bank from home easily and conveniently, in a data-rich manner.

Since 2020, we have been expanding our suite of do-it- yourself (DIY) digital capabilities ranging from current account savings account (CASA) opening to Term Deposit (TD) openings, through to subscriptions for wealth management (WM) products and investments. For instance, we introduced:

  • Extended investment account opening capabilities for securities and funds on SCBHK’s mobile app and expanded the online equities platform to include the US market.

Wealth Management Connect: lets those with international banking needs to access investment opportunities in the Greater Bay Area

"To me, I see technology as an opportunity. The frictionless experience where customers can seamlessly switch between channels and payment or data options allows us to re-imagine the future of banking."

  • A co-branded Q Credit Card in partnership with AlipayHK allows us to tap into its strong client base. Their youthful audience want everything controlled by an app and represent a good growth project for us in our digital self-service drive, which was supercharged by the pandemic.
  • To further help digital adoption step-by-step online guides have been made and staff have been trained to help customer’s digital migrations – all backed by a new monthly digital e-newsletter outlining the possibilities if customers decide to switch to self- serve channels.


Standard Chartered’s efforts in Hong Kong have meant digital wealth transactions have gone up by a quarter over the last two years and there has been a doubling in digital WM income, no doubt helped by those who could put further money aside during the Covid-19 emergency. Overall, digital income has doubled, with the retail bank operation now attracting more than 1 million digital customers across our estate. They are increasingly satisfied with our service as well, according to recent surveys. Covid-19 has fast forwarded our digital advance by perhaps as much as a decade. The trend towards digitalization was already evident but now it is prevalent.


Q3. What non-Covid challenges does your company face? – i.e. nascent inflation exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, recruitment or skills shortages, interest rate rises, supply chain or economic issues; enhanced compliance; etc?

A3. I would say that a skills shortage is arising as key competitors double down on wealth management. There is a heightened demand for relationship managers (RMs) and WM specialists. We’re facing a sector-wide shortage there, which can be addressed by internal up-skilling and other measures, but it is an issue. The battle for talent was further exacerbated in Hong Kong as competitors double down on wealth management hiring. As we continue to scale-up ourselves in the affluent segment, we believe that having the right people strategy will be crucial in besting our competitors.

SCBHK’s training and development program will enable us to develop and grow employees into new WM roles that best serve our clients in the future. One response we have underway is a partnership with INSEAD to launch the Standard Chartered-INSEAD Wealth Academy.

The Academy aims to provide a strong foundational appreciation for finance and banking, as well as distinctive expert knowledge and skills. It is a crucial plank in our bank’s aim to upskill our frontline staff to be future-ready WM advisors.

The multi-year journey we envisage our staff going on is structured. But it also offers flexibility to allow for the development of individual preferences and goals. This empowers RMs and wealth specialists to provide timely, personalized and high-quality differentiated wealth advice to our end clients. More than 100 staff will have been enrolled in the program by the end of this year.

Q4. How has technology impacted your sector & company: is it a threat or opportunity?

A4. To me, I see technology as an opportunity. The frictionless experience where customers can seamlessly switch between channels and payment or data options allows us to re-imagine the future of banking. The way in which we operate has to change with more fintech partnerships; quicker ‘digtial first’ agile adotion practices by us, which is already well advanced; data- rich connected products that prioritize the customer experience (CX) and keep users on our apps; and so on. All of these things must, and are, happening to meet consumer and client demands for faster, better ‘always-on’ services that they can access when and where they wish.

The launch of virtual banks in Hong Kong has raised the bar for digital banking experiences. With most virtual banks, setting up an account just needs a quick selfie with a copy of the Hong Kong ID card. This has significantly shortened account opening processes from hours to minutes, end-to-end.

HK, so our in-built scale, digital migratory help, and omnichannel strategy can all coalesce to deliver an audience.

The on-going digitalization of the banking industry can be collaborative but we must be full and innovative participants ourselves. We cannot be complacent, and we’re not, but the advance of technology is not a threat, unless we allow it to be.

Q5. Are you optimistic for the future?

A5. Although we are not out of the woods yet in terms of the pandemic and its on-going economic impacts – not to mention the supply chain and other issues arising from the Ukraine conflict – I am optimistic about the future.

As a team, SCBHK have become more resilient and agile in responding to change, since the advent of Covid-19. I believe these qualities will enable us to serve our clients more effectively and efficiently long into the future.

With more than two-thirds of our clients using both our branch and digital channels, we will continue to adopt an omnichannel strategy for the time-being, and invest in both our physical network and digital capabilities. However, it is clear that the digital option is the future. We are ready for it.

"While most virtual banks offer simple DIY digital solutions, our unique advantage is marrying digital with the human touch, reaching a wider client base and leveraging it to remain ahead of fintech-enabled newcomers."