General Electric’s Digital Treasury Transformation in Cambodia
General Electric’s Digital Treasury Transformation in Cambodia
As an American multinational conglomerate with a presence in ASEAN for over a century, GE has developed partnerships with private and public sectors in Cambodia across various business sectors. General Electric’s long-time banking partner in Cambodia had a major shareholder pull out in 2018, which could have seriously impacted GE’s treasury team; as SWIFT connectivity would have no longer been available from May 2019.
To ensure business continuity, General Electric issued a Request for Information to find a banking partner providing SWIFT connectivity, cash management and which could help enable digital treasury transformation for its Cambodia business – mandating Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited Phnom Penh Branch as the sole settlement bank for the country in March 2019. The resulting solution offered payment channels for SWIFT connectivity and internet banking, using SWIFT GPI tracking for international payments; detailed reporting via customised SWIFT MT940 messages; settlement accounts in local and foreign currencies with foreign exchange service; a holistic payment suite including local and international transfers for third parties, employee payroll, tax and utilities payment.
The SWIFT connectivity migration was completed in May 2019, and considering the various implementation challenges involved, greatly exceeded General Electric’s expectations.
Overcoming obstacles, breaking down barriers
The project posed challenges for the project team - due to technological limitations in the country, a tight timeline and cross-border service delivery. Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited Phnom Penh Branch was the only bank which could commit to implementation of SWIFT connectivity before the cutover date, demonstrating the confidence and dedication of the bank’s team in pushing out technological advancements for clients.
The cross-border element was also a challenge, as General Electric’s Asia-Pacific regional office managed the project from an offshore location. This, coupled with local regulations, language differences and the business infrastructure in Cambodia, made project implementation more challenging than usual.
A regional implementation team was set up at Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited, the regional headquarters in Hong Kong, dedicated to documentation, user requirement analysis, system development, function optimisation, user testing and staff training for the project. Within six months from General Electric’s Request for Information, the bank - with strong support from General Electric’s team - fulfilled its promise to develop, test, and launch the full suite of cash management services before the target live date.
An end-to-end regional management and service model
After the acquisition of banking businesses from Bank of China Group in the Southeast Asian region since 2015, Bank of China (Hong Kong) has become the regional headquarters for the region. With the goal to “Build a Top-class, Full-serviced and Internationalised Regional Bank”, the bank aims to extend top-tier, sophisticated and full services to customers throughout Southeast Asia. The bank is strongly committed to the region’s product capability development, professional training and tailored customer solutions. The regional model was implemented to projects in the eight markets* covered in the region, with General Electric’s migration being one of them.
Under the regional management and service model, the Bank of China (Hong Kong) regional team integrated global and regional communications with General Electric for effective conversations, which at the same time matched General Electric’s regional project management model. Forming a cross-border project team with Beijing Headquarters and Phnom Penh branch, facilitating the delivery of global products into Cambodia.
As a result, end-to-end coverage support was ensured by the regional team, from customer contact, account opening, new product development and project implementation management, to customer service support and service optimisation after the project went live. Outstanding customer experience is the bank’s first priority - delivering service not only in its state-of-the-art product offerings, but also with a human touch throughout the project and afterwards.
Digital transformation within General Electric
During the banking migration, General Electric digitised manual processes internally to enhance efficiency, and achieved world class automated wing-to-wing payments with no manual touchpoints – a first for their operations in Cambodia.
Digitalisation was a game-changer for the business - it removed painful daily bottlenecks for faster and more secure payments, and provided seamless connections between internal payment systems and SWIFT, making the process more efficient and less error-prone. It also streamlined processes for multiple teams from global, regional, to local locations, and multiple functions across business units. SWIFT GPI capability was also utilised to ensure accuracy and transparency of payment status information.
A strong partnership
The partnership between General Electric and Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited Phnom Penh Branch in Cambodia is the first of its kind. It was General Electric’s first-ever collaboration with a Chinese bank outside China. The successful banking migration was the result of strong collaboration extending across multiple geographies, from local to regional and global stakeholders, as well as great teamwork amongst various functions.
Bank of China (Hong Kong)’s commitment to its clients has helped bring SWIFT capability into Cambodia, pioneering the digitalisation journey of corporates in Cambodia. Since the project went live, there have been no issues related to connectivity and transactions. General Electric senior leadership and business functions for Cambodia are satisfied with the daily reliable and responsive settlement support, and the simplicity and cost-effective outcome has given General Electric the confidence to focus on growing their global business in emerging markets.
*Bank of China (Hong Kong) has regional entities in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei. Earlier in April 2020, Bank of China (Hong Kong) has been granted approval by the Central Bank of Myanmar to set up its Yangon Branch.