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Hosted by top 5 banking and fintech influencer, Jim Marous, Banking Transformed highlights the challenges facing the banking industry. Featuring some of the top minds in business, this podcast explores how financial institutions can prepare for the future of banking.

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WeBank: A Model for the Future of Digital Banking

WeBank is considered by many to be the most progressive digital bank in the world. Launched in 2014, WeBank provides financial services to over 300 million individuals and 2.7 million small businesses.

Recently, WeBank has been expanded the use of blockchain as one of the key technologies to improve efficiency of digital banking and to promote equity and sustainable development. WeBank has also extended beyond financial services to assist other industries in the deployment of blockchain capabilities.

We are joined again on the Banking Transformed podcast by Henry Ma, executive vice president and CIO of WeBank. Ma discusses WeBank’s mission of delivering financial inclusion at scale by leveraging AI, blockchain, cloud computing, and big data.

Jim Marous:
Hello, and welcome to Banking Transformed, the number one podcast in banking. I'm your host, Jim Marous, founder and CEO of the Digital Bank Report, and co-publisher of The Financial Brand.

Jim Marous:
WeBank is the first digital bank in China, and considered by many to be the most progressive digital bank in the world, launched in 2014. WeBank provides financial service to over 300 million individuals and 2 million small businesses, leveraging just 3000 employees, of which three quarters are in technology and engineering.

Jim Marous:
Recently, WeBank has expanded the use of blockchain as one of the key technologies to improve efficiency of digital banking, and to promote equity and sustainable development. WeBank has also expanded beyond financial services to assist other industries in the development of blockchain capabilities.

Jim Marous:
We are joined again by Henry Ma, executive vice president and CEO of WeBank, who I met back in January of 2020, when I was visiting Shenzen. Ma discusses WeBank's mission, delivering financial services at scale by leveraging AI, blockchain, cloud computing, and big data.

Jim Marous:
So, welcome back to the show, Henry. As the largest digital bank in China, WeBank continues to be considered the most progressive financial institution in the world, leveraging advanced technologies to deliver banking services to over 300 million consumers. Can you tell our audience, who may not be familiar with WeBank, a little bit about your company, and what makes it different from any other bank in China or globally?

Henry Ma:
All right. Thank you, Jim, for inviting me to join your podcast again. I think last time I came on to your podcast was like, two years ago. So, as a way to introduce ourselves, WeBank is established at the end of 2014 in China. So, we are serving the China market. Basically, our vision is really trying to promote financial inclusion through digital banking.

Henry Ma:
So, as you mentioned, we able to achieve quite a bit of success with our kind of like, innovative business model. And as of today, we are already serving more than 300 million customers, individual customers in China, very much focusing on low ticket size financial services, and serving very much the tail end part of the market.

Henry Ma:
And I think we try to do that by keep leveraging leading edge technologies. So, technology is really like the core DNA of WeBank, and we offer nonstop services to our customer base, seven by 24, and this is proven to be a pretty robust and sustainable model, at least in our market. And we think it is also highly replicable to other markets in the world as well.

Jim Marous:
Well, since our last interview, the marketplace has been tremendously impacted by the pandemic and increasingly fragile economy. How has this impacted WeBank's focus on innovation and the investment in technologies?

Henry Ma:
Yeah. Well, I very much agree with you. The pandemic, and also a lot of the geopolitical tension has actually created a lot of challenges for the economy worldwide, and I think the China market, our home market is no exception. However, as I mentioned in the introduction, being a fully digital banking operation from day one, our focus on technology advancement to drive innovation, and also our commitment to invest in technology has not changed, despite the shift of the macro environment.

Henry Ma:
And our fundamental belief is technology is really the core engine for continuous development, and not just in good times, but also in bad times as well. And this is probably the only one certainty that remains at a time when we face so many uncertainties in this world, right?

Henry Ma:
And in terms of our strategy, this has been quite effective, as we are able to see very robust growth in our business, even in these very tough times of the market. And while at the same time, we are also being able to manage our risk pretty well, and despite the very challenging market situation out there.

Henry Ma:
A few numbers to highlight, especially around the technology development that we have gone through. For example, the cost of operation. We were able to drive down, per account, the technology operating cost to less than 2.2 RMB per year, which is essentially around less than 40 cents US per account per year, substantially lower than what other major banks are bearing in their technology cost.

Henry Ma:
And also, in terms of the robustness of our business, I mentioned the fact that we operate seven by 24, nonstop, right? And the availability number that we were able to achieve over the past year is already 99.999%. Right? And this is the kind of availability for telco, right? So, financial services... I mean, we are probably among the first to be able to achieve that level of service availability.

Henry Ma:
And also, during the time of pandemic, we actually have invest a lot of technology infrastructure to really enable our staff to be able to work from remote. So, we have built up what we call... And it's also being widely adopted in the industry, the virtual desktop interface. So, even at a time of lockdown, all the other staff at WeBank are able to dial in from remote, from their home, and be able to work as normal.

Henry Ma:
That's also the reason why we are able to achieve a very high level of agility. During the lockdown period, especially around early 2020, we were able to come up with new products in a very short period of time. And one very outstanding example is from product initiation to production, it took us only 10 days.

Jim Marous:
If I'm not mistaken, that's faster than it was when I visited in the beginning of 2020, which I think it was 14 days back then.

Henry Ma:
Exactly, exactly.

Jim Marous:
So, that's amazing.

Henry Ma:
We broke our record again, and this actually happened at the time of the peak of the pandemic in China in 2020. And we have a citywide lockdown at that time, and everybody is just dialing in from remote and then building the new applications, test it out, and then roll it out onto production. And it took us less than 10 days.

Henry Ma:
And it's really very important, because the product that we are talking about is really offering kind of like emergency liquidity to a lot of the small businesses. So, this is coming right in time to really meet certain need of the market at a time of difficulty. So, that's why continuous investment in technology, I think, is really one of the key reason we are able to prove the digital banking model is robust enough and be able to sustain.

Jim Marous:
Well, it's interesting, because you talked about all the economics, the more efficiency and higher efficiency in the innovation model, but if I'm not mistaken, your financials also performed extraordinarily well last year, despite all the challenges that your consumers and small businesses had. You actually recorded some very promising and very positive numbers on a financial basis, as well as won many awards for your region. How's that possible, given all the headwinds?

Henry Ma:
Okay. So, Jim, you have been paying very close attention to our development. And yeah, as you mentioned, if you look at the annual report for 2021, we are performing reasonably well. And in fact, if you look at the number of the customers that we serve, as of the end of 2021, we are already serving close to 321 million customers, individual customers, and that represent an increase of 49 million customers from the year before. Right? So, even though we are going through very tough times, we are able to add to our customer base. Very substantial number of new customers.

Henry Ma:
And if you look at the structures of our customer base, a major portion of them are small business owners. And in fact, this particular customer segment that we are focusing on are actually the ones who got stretched the most during economic downturns.

Jim Marous:
Right.

Henry Ma:
And also the ones who actually requires liquidity to really get through the tough times. So, our digital only, available anytime, available anywhere kind of service model actually comes in very handy for this particular customer segment. When they're in need of banking services, they're only a few clicks away, right? As opposed to the traditional model, and in old days, right, they have to go to the bank outlet, fill in a lot of forms, and wait for the underwriting decision from the bank. If they're lucky, they'll get a reply in a few days. If not, they probably have to wait for a few weeks or even months, right? So, that's why being responsive to our customers needs is very important. And I think that's one of the major reason why we are able to attract a lot of new customers during the time of difficulties.

Henry Ma:
And again, I mean, the application of leading edge technologies is really the key to make this happen, to enable this kind of model to become a reality. You really don't forget the segment that we serve actually involve very high volume transactions, while at the same time, they're mostly small ticket value, right? And if you look at some of the numbers in our annual report, you can realize that each of the customers actually contribute less than maybe around 20 RMB of profit to us in 2021. This is very different from what other traditional bank shows in their P&L. And if we are running our bank in the very traditional way, I mean, even the procurement cost of technologies can easily eat up all these profits, and the bank can hardly break even, right?

Jim Marous:
Right.

Henry Ma:
And in our case, we have already... As I mentioned, we're able to drive down the cost of technology substantially, to around 2.2 RMB per account, per year. And this is really a major contributor toward making our digital banking model robust and sustainable. Right? So, I think technology in this particular case is really the key enabling factor here.

Jim Marous:
So, it's interesting. When we first interviewed you, we discussed how WeBank really drives business development, and really reaches out to the underserved and the unserved consumer using AI, blockchain, cloud computing, and big data. But most recently, you've really made a lot of headway in the blockchain area. In fact, how has blockchain technology changed WeBank to date? Can you share some examples of how maybe it's created efficiency, but also how it's enhanced WeBank's business model?

Henry Ma:
Yeah. You mentioned about AI, blockchain, cloud computing, and big data, right? And this is what we term the so-called ABCD technology of FinTech. So, ABCD remains to be our core focus of technology investment.

Henry Ma:
In fact, on one hand, we put in a lot of R&D resources in the underlying technologies, but at the same time, we also look for areas where these kind of technologies can be applied in the various business areas, and also being able to enable a lot of new business model. And even in some of the cases, those technologies are being applied outside of the financial sector.

Henry Ma:
So, I'll give you a few examples, especially you mentioned about like blockchain, right? Which is really one of our core focuses. But I'll also touch on, for example, AI. WeBank actually developed what we call the FATE framework. The full name is federated artificial intelligence technology enabler. In fact, this is the world's first industrial grade federated learning framework.

Henry Ma:
And in 2021, we also led the efforts to formulate the very first international standard for federated learning. Now, federated learning is very important, because in our model, it is very much a data driven model. And as you probably know, the use of data is becoming more and more highly regulated in different markets, and how to be able to comply to the different data regulation, but at the same time, being able to encourage more data collaboration. I think FATE, in this particular case, will play a very important role, and we actually invested a lot of effort in that.

Henry Ma:
And in blockchain, probably I've mentioned before, in some of the previous interview sessions, that we actually initiated the WeBank blockchain effort very early on, in around 2015. And in fact, in 2017, we released what we call the FISCO BCOS blockchain platform. And FISCO BCOS is now becoming the largest consortium chain community in China.

Henry Ma:
We actually have been able to recruited more than 70,000 developers, individual developers, and more than 3000 companies, and other organizations joining the community, and see hundreds of pretty good, successful applications in different industry, based on the blockchain platform that we offer, that we open source.

Henry Ma:
And also in April this year, we also launched a new brand called WeBank blockchain, and very much focused on supporting ESG initiatives. And I can probably talk a bit more later on about how we are thinking about leveraging blockchain to support ESG.

Henry Ma:
And a few example as well on cloud. We actually deploy a lot of ARM based servers in our financial cloud. And we are probably, if not the first, but definitely among the first batch of financial institutions to really run an ARM based server in production environment. And the benefit of running ARM is, on one hand, it's definitely more cost savings, right? Lower cost. But at the same time, it's more energy efficient. So, to be more environmental friendly, and a lot of people talking about green computing, and I think we are definitely one of the pioneer there, and we are able to substantially save on energy costs by migrating over to a lot of these ARM based servers.

Henry Ma:
And around big data, we open source a lot of our big data processing capabilities, and I think one point worth mentioning is in 2021, we actually contributed two projects to Apache Incubator. And the reason why it's worth mentioning, because there are only totally five new entrances to this incubator platform, and we contributed two projects to it. So, as you can see, we are really like making like huge effort to contribute to the open source community around all these ABCD technologies. And overall, I think we're making pretty good progress in these different areas.

Jim Marous:
You mentioned it when we visited two years ago, but you mentioned just again that what you're doing in the blockchain area really is not just around the bank. You built an open source consortium of blockchain community, where you're deploying the technology across many industries. So, when you're doing that, how does that work towards the overall mission of WeBank? How does that all contribute to the broader mission that you're trying to serve in the community and to the company itself?

Henry Ma:
Okay. Yeah, that's actually a big question, right? Because on one hand, we believe blockchain technology is contributing a very, very important, very core component for the financial industry, because WeBank ourselves actually benefit from a lot of applications based on blockchain.

Henry Ma:
A few examples. For example, we work with a lot of partners. I mean, our banking model actually is not totally relying on ourselves, but we work with a lot of banking industry partners, and also partners from other industries. And in order to work with them, if you do it a very traditional way, there would be a lot of file exchange, right? At day end, you run your batch jobs, and then you send your files over to your partners for them to do the clearing and settlement and reconciliation. Right?

Henry Ma:
But we built a shared ledger on blockchain, so that we and our partners will be able to work on this particular golden copy of the ledger together, right? Without flying files over to each other. And this is actually increasing efficiency to a great extent, and also transparency with your partners as well. So, by working in this way, you encourage transparency, and be able to really attract a lot of partners to come on board.

Henry Ma:
We also work with partners in the judicial sector, right? Because the business model that we rely on, I mean, we don't have pivot documents. Everything is electronic. Everything is digital. So, we work with judicial partners, so that whenever transactions happen, we record it, the digital evidence, onto a blockchain platform. What we call the arbitration chain.

Henry Ma:
So, when there is a dispute coming out from our customer, our judicial partners, like arbitration committee, will be able to extract digital evidence from the blockchain, and be able to handle the dispute resolution in a very efficient manner as well. And by running these kind of applications, we are able to reduce substantially the spill resolution cycle from what used to be a few months, to down to seven days.

Henry Ma:
Again, I mean, as we are running huge volume of small ticket size transactions, these kind of capabilities represent huge savings for us as well, and enable us to be able to serve the broader market. So, this is some good examples on how we apply blockchain to help our own business.

Henry Ma:
But it's more than that. I mean, when we actually decided to go open source in 2017, in fact, you basically take away the boundaries, if you go open source, right? And the technology you build can actually go to a lot of places beyond your own expectation. Right? And in fact, during the pandemic, we are able to see very innovative applications writing on the blockchain platform that we have built to enable the development of a lot of very innovative applications.

Henry Ma:
Some of them include, for example, we worked with the Macau and Guangdong government to build a health corp mutual recognition platform, to enable travelers to go across the border without handling a lot of paper documents, and also not requiring the two health authorities to exchange data directly. Right?

Henry Ma:
So, travelers will be able to submit some of the health related data through the platform by themselves, instead of relying on the health authority to transmit the data. So, on one hand, privacy is being preserved. And at the same time, the receiving authority will be able to validate the validity, the authenticity of the health data submitted by the travelers. So, this is also making sure that all the requiring information has been submitted and received properly.

Henry Ma:
So, enabling the flow of data across border, while at the same time, being able to comply to a lot of the data privacy laws, especially across different jurisdictions. I mean, blockchain actually play a very, very important role there, and we are able to really make good use of the technology itself, to enable cross border travel, at least between Macau and the mainland China.

Henry Ma:
And based on the success of that, we actually extend the application to other areas. For example, we talk about the Greater Bay Area, to encourage business activities among Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong area, and you have people traveling around, or doing business in the GBA area. Used to be case that you have to like bring along a lot of paper documents, right?

Henry Ma:
And we really tried to extend the application beyond health corp. For example, some of your property document, your bank account information, you would be to transmit across border, in a very similar way. So, we have built a cross border data verification platform, in a very similar kind of setup, for the Greater Bay Area. And I think we are seeing some very initial success, and hopefully down the road, we'll be able to enable more and more cross border data applications, based on this kind of infrastructure.

Jim Marous:
With the WeBank blockchain brand, you also have really moved forward quite a bit on ESG, environmental, sustainable and governance initiatives, to help the organization beyond typical banking. Where are you looking at, from the standpoint of using the blockchain and expanding the mission beyond what the bank's doing overall? So, the whole idea of sustainability and things of this nature. I mean, what's the business case for that?

Henry Ma:
Yeah. I think, on one hand, like when we initiated our blockchain effort in 2015, our initial target was to improve the efficiency of financial services.

Jim Marous:
Right.

Henry Ma:
When I talk about the example around our shared ledger, doing reconciliation with our partners, and also the example around arbitration, it's really about how we can enhance the efficiency of our own operation, and really drive down the cost. But after we open sourced the blockchain technologies, we realized the value of the technologies that we built really extend far beyond financial services. As you can see from some of the examples that I quoted earlier.

Jim Marous:
Right.

Henry Ma:
For example, the health corp mutual recognition, the data verification platform cross border. And that's really the reason why, when kind of we launched the WeBank blockchain, the branding, earlier this year, and we really want to position it as one of the core infrastructure to support ESG initiatives.

Jim Marous:
Yeah.

Henry Ma:
So, example around cross border data validation, and also some of our partners are writing on blockchain to build environmental related applications. For example, a partner of ours actually build a platform based on FISCO BCOS, to register green behavior of their users. And they really try to incentivize low carbon lifestyle by offering reward program based on the positive behaviors of their users. Right? If they drive less, if they take public transport, they will be able to accumulate the so-called carbon points.

Henry Ma:
And these carbon points can actually translate into values for them to like exchange for gifts, or even get a discount for their insurance policy, for example. Right? So, this is a really good way to promote all these ESG related activities.

Henry Ma:
And really, if you look at ESG, it entails multi-party participation, right? And the trust among participants are really one of the most important, or even the most critical constituents for success.And blockchain... I mean, a lot of people actually recognize blockchain as the so-called trust machine. Right? So, we see that as undeniably the perfect matching technology to support ESG.

Henry Ma:
So, we just feel like someone needed to get started on this, and as a socially responsible organization, we think that we really should get this growing, and at least get the ball rolling to begin with. And then that's why, when we launched our blockchain initiative earlier this year, very definitely, we want to focus to support ESG as one of the primary objective.

Henry Ma:
And a lot of people may ask, "Hey, how does it has to do with your business itself?" Right? Because we are still a commercial organizations. Right?

Jim Marous:
Right.

Henry Ma:
So, how are you going to generate output or get return out of your investment? We really believe that, down the road, participation on ESG, and also fulfilling of our social responsibility, is really going to be more and more important. And at the same time, we also anticipate business op opportunities in the longer term. For example, by building up the ledger for registering carbon footprints, as I mentioned earlier, in that example.

Jim Marous:
Right.

Henry Ma:
We think we are also in a very good position to offer our services, financial services, like clearing and settlement services, for exchange of carbon points when the corresponding business needs come up. Right? So, if the capability that we have built up is ready, and we are being presented with the right opportunity, I think we are in a very good position to take it up. Right?

Henry Ma:
So, that's why. Even though we may not be able to see commercial returns in the short term, in immediate term, we're still very much positive on the longer term perspectives on these investment.

Jim Marous:
Yeah. So, let's take a short break here and recognize as sponsors of this podcast.

Jim Marous:
Welcome back. I'm joined today by Henry Ma, executive vice president and CIO of WeBank. We've been discussing innovation and digital transformation efforts that WeBank, and the impact that the blockchain has on financial services.

Jim Marous:
You know, Henry, when we first met, and you were interviewed for the Banking Transformed podcast, you mentioned the desire to white label some of your financial capabilities and functionalities outside of China. I know we've talked about blockchain, but has there been any progress on the white labeling efforts?

Henry Ma:
Well, Jim, as we actually adopted the open source strategy, and it's not just around blockchain, but the so-called ABCD capabilities that we have built up, I think this is not really a matter of yes or no. Right? I mean, it's only about when and how.

Jim Marous:
Yeah.

Henry Ma:
So, as a matter of fact, according to some of the numbers that we gather from our communities, there are already hundreds of applications built on top of the ABCD technologies that we have open source. Right? We talk about the FISCO BCOS consortium blockchain technologies. We talk about FATE, F-A-T-E, the federated learning AI framework. And there are lots of applications around that.

Henry Ma:
And quite interesting, some of those applications... I mean, even though we built a lot of our own applications, financial applications on top of these platform, we also see a lot of those technologies being adopted in other industry as well. So, by our partners, and also by developers in the various communities. And the numbers keep increasing, and it's really astonishing, sometimes, when we look at those numbers. And even though most of those applications are happening in mainland China, but we also see a few examples outside of China as well.

Henry Ma:
So, I think short answer to your question's yes. There are definitely a lot of like applications based on the technologies that we have developed. And it's not just WeBank benefiting from those technologies. And we are also pretty sure that there will be even more to highlight down the road. And so, we are really like looking forward to see more and more of those successful use cases leveraging the capabilities that we open sourced.

Jim Marous:
So, you mentioned earlier in our discussion today, how quickly you can take innovations from ideation to implementation. What is your process for vetting innovations at the bank, and how do you decide which ones will remain internal to WeBank, and which ones you might be white labeling out to the marketplace?

Henry Ma:
Right. In fact, when I talk about agility, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we have very strong development capabilities at the bank. So, I probably shared with you before, over 50% of our workforce are in the engineering space. So, we build our own applications instead of buying off the shelves. And this really enable us to be able to move fast, especially when I talk about the fact that we can go from ideation to production within 10 days. Right?

Jim Marous:
Yeah.

Henry Ma:
So, requirement, capturing, development and testing. I mean, if it all happen in a closed circle, I think it can be very efficient, right? Instead of relying on some of the external vendors.

Henry Ma:
And because of the fact that we have these very strong development capabilities, we are encouraging our own people to really productize some of those technological capabilities. And in fact, we have a very strong open source culture within WeBank, and some of the teams, even though the key mandate is to really support our own business, they're also being encouraged to actually contribute to the open source community.

Henry Ma:
So far, we have already open sourced more than 30 projects worldwide, in fact. And a lot of them, it's really because of the fact that our developers, they just feel like some of the output that they generated, it's not going to be just benefiting WeBank, but the overall industry as well.

Henry Ma:
And really, I mean, the culture of WeBank, we really encourage our people to contribute source code, and really be able to make best use of the source code that they have developed as well. So, I think that actually contribute a lot to the reason why we are able to build up a lot of these capabilities, and those capabilities are widely adopted, not just by ourself, but other partners and even other industries.

Jim Marous:
So, Henry, what do you see as the future of embedded banking and maybe banking as a service?

Henry Ma:
Well, I think overall, what we have done at WeBank, we want banking to be everywhere, right? To be embedded into different contexts as well. Because this is more natural for our customer experience as well. And when people talk about like, moving down the road, there will be new development in areas like metaverse, I mean, this is all about experience, right?

Henry Ma:
So, if you can actually be... The customers themselves, if they are actually making purchases in the virtual world, we also want banking services to be ready in those use cases. And that's why contextual banking and embedded banking services, I think it's inevitable, and definitely digital banks, like ourselves, would be very much focused on really enable embedded banking, in order to provide better customer experience for our users and our customer base.

Jim Marous:
So, when you look to the future, what challenges do you see down the road that banking as a whole, or for WeBank overall... What challenges do you see in the near term, in the longer term, as far as how we serve the consumer and small business in the marketplace with financial services?

Henry Ma:
I think for the financial industry, banking included, I think we really need to understand the new type of customer experience that our user, our customer will expect, because that's the most important, at the end of the day. Right? I mentioned earlier about a metaverse-

Jim Marous:
Right.

Henry Ma:
... or the so-called kind of embedded experience. I think that this is really the trend that we have to understand. And like I mentioned earlier, I think these kind of capabilities, we have to build early on, and so that when opportunities come up, we'll be able to... in a position to take them. Right?

Henry Ma:
So, I think a lot of like banking industry, and also even in other financial industries, if you want to equip yourself to be ready for the future, you really need to understand better these kind of trends, and also invest early on to really beef up the capabilities that you have, to get ready for the new shift in the market, and be able to grab the opportunities available.

Jim Marous:
And finally, Henry, one thing that I've really admired about WeBank as I've been following them, and you personally, is really the challenger mindset that you have. That it's never good enough. You can't rest on your laurels. And we talk about it quite a bit in the podcast. We talk about it in other things I present, about how important is to continually challenge yourself to improve.

Jim Marous:
How do you do that at WeBank? Is it culture? Is it overall, just looking at continually improving what's going on? But it's not natural for many organizations. How do you continue to have that challenger mindset to disrupt your own organization to make it better?

Henry Ma:
Yeah, I think it's very important to build up the right culture from the very beginning, and the culture itself. And very important part of that culture is really the idea about ownership, right? You really need to really let your employees, let your team understand that they're really the owner of the business. One of the owners of the business. And once they have this sense of ownership, this is becoming the drive, the core drive, for them to improve. Right?

Henry Ma:
And so, the approach that we have taken, I think it's quite different from a lot of traditional organization, especially like for financial organizations, when decision are mostly top down. But in our case, we really encourage a lot of bottom up decision making, and also encourage a lot of innovations coming from our team.

Henry Ma:
And of course, along the way, we also have to allow room for errors, right? And the fail fast kind of like mentality is also important. But let our own staff try out new things, and let them fail. But we have to make sure that they fail fast, and fail with low cost.

Henry Ma:
So, that's why building up the right architecture, the right technical architecture to support that is also very important. And that's why, when we design the overall architecture, we want to make sure that it's scalable on one hand, but at the same time, actually the cost structure is low enough for our staff to be able to try new things. And even if you fail, I mean, the loss is acceptable for us.

Henry Ma:
And hopefully, among some of their attempts, we will get some successes. Right? And really, that's the kind of culture that we encourage. Right? And I think this is what's missing in a lot of traditional organizations.

Jim Marous:
Henry, thank you so much again. I know it's always a challenge sometimes getting our schedules coordinated so we can have these kind of discussions, but it is always enlightening, and it really is so much fun for me to be interviewing an organization, a person from an organization that really sees banking differently. I mean, your efficiency ratios are unparalleled. The ability to do what you do with the number of employees you have, with the investment you have, but with the focus on not just efficiency, but really the effectiveness of building experiences for 300 million consumers. It's astounding. Thanks again, Henry. I appreciate it.

Henry Ma:
Thank you, Jim. Yeah. Hopefully we will have more to share the next time we talk.

Jim Marous:
Yes. Thanks for listening to Banking Transformed. I hope you enjoyed today's interview. Please be sure to give our show a five star rating in your favorite podcast app. Also, be sure to catch my articles in The Financial Brand, and the research we're doing for the Digital Bank Report.

Jim Marous:
This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to our producer, Leah Longbrake, audio engineer Sean Rule Hoffman and video producer, Will Pritts. I'm your host, Jim Marous. Until next time, keep exploring what leaders are doing to set your own bar even higher, in business and in life.

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