How does Taiwan’s bilingual push enhance the competitive edge of its banks?
We spoke with local banks and the regulator to ask how the bilingual services enhances the financial industry's global competitiveness.
In a bid to make Taiwan a regional financial hub in Asia and ensure its global competitiveness in years to come, the country’s National Development Council was tasked to develop Taiwan to become a “Bilingual Nation” by 2030. Amongst the initiative’s ardent adopters is the banking industry, with the local Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) expecting that all bank branches in Taiwan will be able to offer Chinese-English bilingual services by 2030, former FSC chairman Wellington Koo said in 2019.
Fast-forward to 2021, and local banks have made headway in making English-language services more accessible in their branches. As of 17 February, about 18 local banks are now reportedly offering bilingual services at over 170 branches across the country, according to data from the FSC.
In fact, two major Taiwanese banks, E. Sun Commercial Bank and Hua Nan Commercial Bank, have both announced plans to make all of their branches bilingual by 2026—about four years before the target year.
Asian Banking & Finance spoke with local banking players and the Financial Supervisory Commission to ask how the introduction of bilingual services enhances the international competitive edge of banks— as well as what they’ve achieved in this initiative.
Joseph N.C. Huang
E.SUN Commercial Bank
“E.SUN bank has a long term view for its two strategic goals: building a financial platform in Asia and providing customer-centric service. With the focuses being set, it is very important for E.SUN to enhance bilingual capabilities. E.SUN targets to have all 139 branches to become bilingual by 2026. Zuoying Branch, the first bilingual branch of E.SUN, has the most foreign currency deposit accounts opened and the highest forex transactions among all branches. Customer experience and satisfaction both improved after introduction of Chinese-English bilingual services. E.SUN quickly duplicated the experience and has 17 bilingual branches now.
“E.SUN plans to add 13 more branches into the bilingual service in 2021. E.SUN will continuously deploy more services bilingual, such as bilingual ATM, online banking, and mobile banking. E.SUN also equipped its call center with bilingual capability to quickly respond to customer needs and solve their problems. In the future, E.SUN bank will keep implementing a bilingual strategy to provide friendly, customer-oriented financial services, and expand the talent pool of bilingual service to be a more competitive bank in Asia.”
Deputy Director General, Banking Bureau
Financial Supervisory Commission
“In support of the government's Bilingual Nation 2030 policy, the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) is encouraging banks to set up pilot bilingual branches, help employees improve their English proficiency, and create service environments that are conducive to the provision of bilingual financial services.
Since the FSC began promoting pilot bilingual branches in 2019, 18 banks have equipped existing 172 such branches, and consumers with a need for bilingual banking services are encouraged to make use of them.
“This shows that Taiwan domestic banks have sufficient resources and potential to provide international financial services by providing bilingual facilities, application forms, and service counters with bilingual personnel.With a joint effort from the public and private sectors, the global image of Taiwan as having a bilingual environment can be further enhanced.
From December 2019 through December 2020, the FSC has visited and inspected eight pilot bilingual branches, including four branches in northern Taiwan, two branches in central Taiwan, and two branches in southern Taiwan.
These preparations are laying a good foundation for internationalization of Taiwan’s financial industry."
Associate Executive Vice President of Business Planning Division
“Since English is the most spoken language worldwide, creating a friendly bilingual financial services environment is not only to improve the competitive edge of Taiwanese enterprises but boost economic development as well as achieving the goal of Taiwan to become an APAC Regional Financial Center. In support of the government policy of Bilingual Nation 2030, Bank SinoPac started to set up bilingual branches in northern, central and southern Taiwan (Chunglun Branch in Taipei, Hsitun Branch in Taichung and NCKU Branch in Tainan) from 2020. To provide friendly financial services for foreign customers, Bank SinoPac offers Chinese-English services both online and offline, including the transaction forms, the counter staffs and the facilities in bilingual branches as well as the official website, the internet bank and the mobile bank.
"We believe that through enhancing bilingual financial services environment will attract more foreigners to move to Taiwan or work here and it will promote the international competitiveness of our financial industry.”
Photo courtesy of Belle Co (Pexels)