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MUFG's Batra: "We will not play catch-up.We will play leapfrog"

By Foo Boon Ping

Vivek Batra, MUFG’s new general manager and regional head of transaction banking sales for the Asia & Oceania region, discusses how the bank intends to capitalise on its position as a latecomer to the global transaction banking business.

  • Vivek Batra shares that he will focus the bank on supply chain management, supply chain finance, and cash management
  • He recognises the opportunity that technology disruption presents to the industry players to differentiate themselves
  • Batra also believes being new in global transaction banking business gives MUFG a strategic advantage

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) earlier in April 2017 appointed ex-DBS transaction banker, Vivek Batra, as its new general manager and regional head of transaction banking sales for the Asia and Oceania region, responsible for enhancing its transaction banking business, which includes cash management and trade finance, across 13 markets.

Six months into the role, Batra told The Asian Banker that joining the Japanese mega bank group represented an opportunity to build a global transaction banking business with Asia at the centre and from its Singapore headquarters to further deepen customer relationships globally.


Vivek Batra, general manager and regional head of transaction banking sales, Asia and Oceania, MUFG

“MUFG is the one of the top 10 largest financial groups in the world. We have a large customer base and very deep relationships. Add that to our truly global presence and our strong rating and it is a pretty compelling value proposition,” he explained.

Focus on supply chains

For him, the areas which he is going to focus the bank on are: supply chain management and supply chain finance (the entire end-to-end supply chain), and cash management (the day-to-day payments and collections).

“Our vision, and our expectation, as we keep going up the ladder of transaction banks, is to be embedded into the daily operations and business flows of our customers,” he remarked.

He believes that existing customers of MUFG want to do more with the bank and it needs to capture that aspiration in a more strategic and sustainable manner.

“We find, when we talk to customers around the world, the keenness to start putting in place more organised supply chain programmes. We have done a few which are literally from farm gates to “mom and pop” shops and to the big retail outlets as well. Those are really gratifying. Those are the real supply chains,” he enthused.

Leveraging disruption

He also recognised the opportunity that technology disruption is presenting to the industry players to differentiate themselves.

“We are approaching our business twofold: one, how we focus on the positives of disruption and use technology to enhance internal processes and efficiencies - reduce costs, cut turnaround times, reduce risk, and improve quality. Two, to design all the potential benefits of disruption around and in alignment with our customers’ KPIs, which are all about better liquidity, reduced risk, higher return, and more transparency. We are focused on the customer’s needs, and often go above and beyond their needs to differentiate ourselves,” he explained.

For instance, MUFG is working on a number of blockchain proof-of-concept initiatives, including one as part of a consortium with HSBC and OCBC in Singapore to enhance the Know Your Customer (KYC) processes and another with Singapore’s National Trade Platform (NTP), aimed at making cross-border trade flows more secure, efficient and transparent, with the long-term goal of fostering greater trade and supply chain integration across the region.

Advantage of a latecomer

The fact that the global transaction banking business is new to MUFG is a strategic advantage he believes.

“At this point the transaction banking business at MUFG is relatively younger than some of our competition, which works well for us in two ways. One, it gives us white space to work with in terms of customers we can talk to. Two, it enables us to actually be right at the forefront of digital innovation and technology so that when we invest and make changes now, we will not play catch-up. We will leap frog. That is really the upside for us at this point in time,” he said.

Added to this is the rebound in the commodity trade cycle and turnaround in economic and trade activities in Asia, with China showing better growth pick-up.

“The traditional trade business is also showing good momentum. The market did see some volatility and challenges in the last few years. However, I believe we are at a better point in the cycle than we have been for some time and are well-positioned to capture opportunities for growth,” he concluded.



Categories: Trade Finance, Transaction Banking
Keywords: MUFG, Transaction Banking, Supply Chain Management
Country: Hong Kong, Singapore
Region: East Asia, Southeast Asia
People: Alicia Garcia Herrero, Eugene Tarzimanov
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