CBA firms complex relationship with China

While Australian financial services stayed largely on the sidelines during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s Australian visit, the Commonwealth Bank opened it’s Innovation Lab to more than 100 senior representatives of companies, generating invaluable “guanxi” as part of a tour coordinated by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT).

Showcasing CBA’s China-readiness in the critical innovation and technology space during two closed sessions, Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, group executive, Institutional Banking & Markets told AB+F that the bank had strengthened its complex relationship with one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

“This was a unique opportunity for CBA,” she said. “The members of the delegation that visited the Innovation Lab were impressed by our approach to innovation, and also by the unique insights that we were able to demonstrate.

“We are keen to keep building our role in China-Australia capital flows, and this event was a great opportunity to strengthen our relationships with many Chinese companies.”

CCPIT Chairman Jiang Zengwei was part of the delegation, which included Chinese corporate leaders across a spectrum of industries.

CBA has an established history of working with Chinese companies and last year became the first Australian bank to partner with China’s Alipay, the world’s largest mobile and online payment platform.

During the visit - CBA was the only Australian company to host both the CCPIT Chairman and the corporate delegation - Chinese executives were guided through the Innovation Lab and provided with an overview of the bank’s capabilities in blockchain, trade finance, emerging technology, data analytics and payments innovation.

Global approach

Bayer Rosmarin said the event was an important step in building ties between the bank and Chinese companies, and an opportunity to demonstrate the bank’s global approach to innovation.

“China continues to grow in significance as a trade partner for Australia," said Bayer Rosmarin.

She said the tour will enable the bank to reinforce it’s strategy of capturing a greater share of cross-border trade, investment and foreign exchange flows - both from Chinese clients engaging in Australia, and Australian clients engaging in China.

Commonwealth Bank’s IB&M division has offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

According to Bayer Rosmarin, IB&M collaborates with Chinese clients working across Australia and New Zealand in industries covering healthcare, education, real estate, through agribusiness; or that operate within its specialist sectors of natural resources, industrials and logistics, financial institutions and infrastructure.

In October last year, CBA struck a deal with China’s giant ecommerce platform Alibaba’s Ant Financial Services Group, China’s most valuable fintech company, which runs AliExpress, a platform for Chinese merchants to sell to global consumers.

CBA is also working with Alipay on a payment solution to allow Chinese visitors to use Alipay for in‐store payments at Australian retailers, while in 2016 the bank opened new Innovation Labs in Hong Kong and London.

“Innovation is in our DNA and so we are delighted to be able to showcase the Lab to this delegation. Our Hong Kong Lab continues to go from strength to strength with 4,000 people passing through in its first year of operation, many of whom were corporates from Mainland China, and we’d love to build on that this year,” Bayer Rosmarin concluded.

CBA has had a presence in the Chinese market for over two decades after opening its first China representative office in 1992 in Beijing.

For an analysis of the big four banks' approach to innovation, see the April issue of AB+F magazine. 

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