HSBC USA’s Tom Halpin, head of global payments solutions in North America, is focused on listening to customer needs as the bank prioritizes digital-first engagement.
The $167 billion bank, owned by $2.9 trillion, London-based HSBC Holdings, is looking to fintechs, innovations from its global counterparts, and emerging digital technologies for inspiration, Halpin told Bank Automation News.
For example, in December the bank partnered with digital card fintech Extend to offer virtual card solutions and embedded payments to commercial customers, according to a previous Extend release.
Bank Automation News caught up with Halpin to discuss HSBC’s digital priorities for 2023, fintech partnerships and the advantages of being part of a global bank. What follows is an edited version of that conversation.
Bank Automation News: How does HSBC USA prioritize its digitization strategy?
Tom Halpin: One of our strategic pillars is HSBC Instant ꟷ developing real-time payment capabilities needed to intermediate in digital flows. Our Extend partners, with mobile, instant issuance of virtual cards, directly support this pillar.
As such, we focus on digital-first customer engagement, making our customers’ lives easier and more efficient. This allows us not only to look at the payment transaction itself, but also the entire payment journey that our customers go through. We identify key pain points for our customers and prioritize our efforts accordingly.
BAN: What is HSBC USA’s fintech partnership strategy?
TH: As part of our focus on a digital-first customer experience, we look to future-proofing the technology we roll out to our clients. For example, increasing the use of data to enrich the customer proposition. Virtual Cards, with rich custom data fields, meet both of these requirements. Our Extend partners will allow HSBC to deliver virtual cards to a broader segment of our clients with a simple, digital, intuitive experience. This allows our cards business to minimize friction in our clients’ payment experience across a multitude of payment categories. We want to be present in the payment ecosystems of our clients to minimize or remove any disruption to their day-to-day operations.
BAN: How does being part of HSBC Holdings help you stay up to date on new tech and automations?
TH: There are many benefits that we at HSBC USA derive from being part of a global bank. We leverage capabilities and innovations from across the world, not just Europe. This allows us to identify new opportunities as well as share best practices across regions, and therefore bring new innovations to U.S. clients. For example, in 2022 we entered into a global agreement with Coupa Pay, which allows us to work together in each market through a simple participation agreement, greatly streamlining the time to market.
Likewise, our U.S. cards business has been able to provide new innovations and ideas to our global partners. Examples include the use of straight through processing (STP) to improve the merchant experience with B2B commercial cards.
BAN: Which technologies are you excited for in 2023?
TH: Embedded finance: The way that customers engage with banks is changing, which is why we are evolving and innovating at pace. We want to be present in the payment ecosystems of our clients. A key example of this is the embedded banking services we launched last year with Oracle NetSuite.
Continued acceleration and adoption of real-time APIs: Creating a more secure and insightful business model. This allows HSBC to support new segments, propositions and distribution models with APIs enabling automation of implementation and servicing. This is especially true of HSBCnet, which gives clients a clear picture of all their global banking in one place, wherever and whenever they want it. We offer a comprehensive suite of flexible online financial solutions, all designed to help clients increase productivity and manage cash flow.
Advancement of Virtual Card payment experiences, which includes a more robust acceptance ecosystem. To that point, HSBC has been an early adopter of MasterCard Track, a payment ecosystem that connects all four parties — cardholder, issuer, merchant and merchant services provider — in the card transaction in a common ecosystem, automating both the card payment and reconciliation processes for all parties.
BAN: What is your favorite piece of leadership advice?
TH: For me, the best advice is listen to your customers. Our customers’ needs are constantly evolving, requiring a strong level of engagement and consultation to understand their business. Also, understand that, as a trusted advisor to our clients, we don’t have to do it all ourselves. The best way to fulfill our customer needs might be better suited through an industry partnership, such as our Extend partnership.