Wednesday, 28 September 2022

CEOs: "Helping small businesses and enabling digital transactions key priorities amid pandemic"

5 min read

In this CEO Perspectives series, we ask CEOs and chairmen of a number of banks around the world for their comments and opinions on how their institutions and the region they are in are affected by and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. They share their personal assessment of how this crisis will play out, the outlook for their region's banking industry, their bank's readiness and first line responses to the crisis for both customers and staff, as well as how the crisis will change their bank and the industry in the long term. Here is an overview of what they said:

Diane Karusisi,


Bank of Kigali

Wick Veloso,

President and CEO,

Philippine National Bank

"Bureaucracy will have to change and be rethought, paving the way for smarter and more agile ways of working, supported by digital tools and solutions, which will chart the way forward."

Diane Karusisi, CEO of Bank of Kigali, talks about the bank's responses to the pandemic and the necessity of using digital tools to offer smarter, more agile ways of working.

She also said that the recovery of economic activity will remain slow, despite government-imposed measures. Read More

"The pandemic is changing consumer behaviour. To succeed in the so-called new normal, what matters is our ability to arm our teams with available technologies and logistical support."

Wick Veloso, President and CEO of Philippine National Bank, said that public spending paired with government aid will help the economy recover.

Veloso also shared how banks' past investments in digital technology allowed them to remain operational amid lockdowns and emphasised how digital will even be more important moving forward. Read More

Jonathan Alles,

Managing Director and CEO,

Hatton National Bank

Mohammad Salem Omaid,

President and CEO,

Azizi Bank

"The bank and the entire sector will emerge from this crisis with a new normal, thus it is essential for the sector to revisit operating models to remain sustainable."

Jonathan Alles, Managing Director and CEO of Hatton National Bank, contextualises the effect of the pandemic in Sri Lanka and talks about the role global factors will play in the country's resurgence.

Alles also offers insights on exiting lockdowns and highlights the need for banks to adapt to the post-COVID world. Read More

"My personal assessment is that this pandemic will definitely have an adverse effect on all the industries and jeopardise economic growth... It will take some time for the economy to stabilise and recover."

Mohammad Salem Omaid, President and CEO of Azizi Bank, paints a picture of the pandemic's impact on the banking sector in the context of Afghanistan and discusses the prospects of recovery.

Omaid also discusses Azizi Bank's efforts in ensuring the safety of its staff and customers as well as the challenges banks may face in the foreseeable future. Read More

"The pandemic’s lasting impact will be on the way we work and operate, the way customers bank with us and even the way we engage shareholders."

Samuel Tsien, Group CEO of OCBC Bank, emphasises the economic shock coming from the pandemic and how it will change the way businesses operate for good.

Tsien also noted how governments' measures help cushion the economic blow of the pandemic as well as the vital role of the financial sector in supporting such initiatives and helping customers weather this tough time. Read More

Samuel Tsien,

Group CEO,


Bassel Gamal,

Group CEO,

Qatar Islamic Bank

"Banks worldwide will have to play a crucial part in the recovery of global and local economies."

Bassel Gamal, Group CEO of Qatar Islamic Bank, highlights the importance of putting people's safety first and the important role of banks in economic recovery.

Gamal has also discussed how the current pressure on profitability and the shift in consumers' behaviour will lead to long-term effects on the industry at large and changes in banks' operating models. Read More

Hisham Ezz Al-Arab,

Chairman and Managing Director,


Ana Botin,

Group Executive Chairman,

Banco Santander

"Everyone believes there will be an end to this pandemic. When it is over, I believe industries will undergo both quantitative and qualitative changes."

Morris Li, Chairman of CTBC Bank, provides key insights on monetary and fiscal responses to the pandemic and the major changes that await industries after the crisis.

Li expects mid- and long-term economic downturns as the battle against COVID-19 goes on. He also highlights the important role of digital transformation across all industries at this time and moving forward. Read More

"We recognise that this is a turbulent time for the global economy. Our job is to extend full support to our clients by rescheduling dues in affected industries and providing the finance needed for our clients to operate in a sustainable manner."

Hisham Ezz Al-Arab, Chairman and Managing Director of CIB discusses the bank’s efforts to keep clients and staff safe, help SMEs regain their footing and how being a more digitalised organisation has allowed it to withstand the pandemic.

CIB has reaffirmed its support for the Central Bank of Egypt's measures to stem the impact of COVID-19. The bank is harnessing its digital capabilities and doing what it can to help small businesses get back on their feet. Read More

"Europe cannot be left behind in this crisis. Now is the time for Europe to rise to the occasion and lead a faster and more coordinated response."

Ana Botin, Group Executive Chairman, Banco Santander, calls on Europe to lead a coordinated response to the COVID-19 crisis with greater support for businesses and protection of jobs, even as she and her management team take voluntary salary cuts for medical relief fund

Europe needs to respond faster and in a more coordinated way to the COVID-19 pandemic. Botin also reaffirmed Santander's commitment to compliance with ECB recommendations as well as protect jobs and support businesses. Read More

Abdul Farid Alias,

CEO and Group President,


"The industry will have to quickly evolve to ensure that it continues to have the right products and services for businesses which are themselves undergoing tremendous change and will be operating in a totally transformed environment from now on."

Abdul Farid Alias, CEO and Group President, Maybank, accentuates the need for rigorous planning in times of crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the changes it will bring to the business landscape.

Extensive planning and preparation are necessary to ensure readiness for unexpected events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. In such times, it is important to prioritise everyone's health and safety, while ensuring minimal disruptions. Read More

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