Global restrictions designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in recent months have accelerated digital uptake. For businesses here in the Channel Islands, that unlocks new opportunities that HSBC can support.

Digital technology has proved the great enabler during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown. It has allowed businesses to function whilst protecting their employees by automating processes and enabling homeworking, and it has also allowed them to continue to reach and serve their customers. Indeed, in many ways, the pandemic hit fast forward on the transformative technology trends we had already seen emerging. A recent report from McKinsey, for example, found “that we have vaulted five years forward in consumer and business digital adoption in a matter of around eight weeks”1.

Harnessing the benefits of technology

Whilst much has been made of the growth of ecommerce and video conferencing during the pandemic, that’s not the whole story. Businesses have increasingly been using technology to drive efficiencies within their operations, such as streamlining processes, as Aline Ayotte, Head of Commercial Banking, HSBC Channel Islands and Isle of Man, explains: “New ways of working increased the need for technology that could enable businesses to work from anywhere with secure, fast access that was available whenever it was needed. Maintaining access to financial reporting, payments infrastructure and reconciliation underpinned a company’s ability to continue to do business. We’ve seen increasing interest from clients in our digital solutions, and we continue to invest in and evolve those to support businesses and individuals.”

From online banking services, which offer fingertip control and enhanced visibility, to new solutions, HSBC has responded to provide the technological solutions businesses need to adapt to the new normal. However, it’s not just about meeting the short-term imperatives of reducing physical contact, but also about creating solutions that provide longer-term benefits in terms of increased efficiency. HSBC’s Business Banking app, for example, has been developed to permit users to scan and deposit Sterling cheques*. That not only avoids the need for inperson deposits but allows a reduction in administrative time.

APIs offer new options for efficiency

Another growing area of interest is the use of Application Programming Initiatives, or APIs, with regards to more streamlined payment technology. Simon Berridge-Burley, Senior Project Manager, Global Liquidity and Cash Management at HSBC, explains the many benefits APIs can offer businesses. “In essence, APIs provide access to real-time data through real-time connectivity,” he says. “Businesses can initiate payments directly from their own systems without needing to invest in large-scale new technology platforms. APIs deliver a secure and efficient way to integrate and simplify processes.” Integration of the service is quick and easy and can provide access to a broad digital marketplace of solutions that can help future-proof a business.

With HSBC’s Navigator: Business Resilience research showing that businesses are seeing COVID-19 as a catalyst for change and an opportunity to increase resilience, that’s becoming a key focus. Sixty-three per cent of businesses in the report are preparing for future uncertainty by adopting technology or investing in automation2. “Whether that’s to enhance their culture or collaboration, create more resilient processes or enable efficiency, it makes it even more important that businesses of all sizes and across all sectors explore and adopt all that technology offers,” says Aline.

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