Hong Kong Monetary Authority Highlights the Use of WhatsApp and WeChat Communication in Light of Covid-19

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Multiple waves of Covid-19 have swept through Hong Kong during the year 2020 and the government took a flexible approach in relaxing and tightening social distancing measures in accordance with the latest developments. During the times when social distancing norms were in practice, Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) had asked banks to take steps to protect their staff and customers. It included allowing its employees to work from home, where it is possible. That meant that many banks had to close or shorten the work hours of their branches and introduce work from home arrangements for the employees. The use of messaging platforms like WhatsApp and WeChat for business communications also increased manifold as face-to-face meetings become impossible due to lockdown.

During these times, banks faced many operational challenges including the need for quick transition to digital working methods, ensure compliance of employee-client communication and providing access to employees to internal databases and systems without compromising on security.

In a circular sent by HKMA, they have observed four potential use-cases that are relevant to Covid-19.

Use Case 1 – Enabling compliant business communication

The onset of the pandemic didn’t give banks a lot of notice period to set alternate arrangements to enable employees to have remote access to internal systems. Hence bank customers turned to messaging applications like WhatsApp and WeChat to discuss their issues. The use of personal messaging applications by employees for business communication meant that banks had no means of capturing and archiving communication between employees and customers for regulatory requirements.

Some communication solutions may be used to solve this issue. These solutions would provide an all-in-one messaging platform that the bank employees can use for their communication with the customers. These solutions would be compatible with common personal messaging apps like WhatsApp and WeChat. That would mean that the employees can use a single, bank approved platform to communicate with the customers while using their personal messaging platforms. Similarly, customers can also use their messaging platforms like WeChat and WhatsApp to communicate their financial issues with the employees of the bank.

Using the new communication solution would also help banks to monitor and archive the communication of their staff, which is mandatory for regulatory compliance. WhatsApp call recording and chat recording as well as WeChat call recording and chat recording can be done safely and securely using these new technology solutions.

WhatsApp archiving solution and WeChat archiving solution from TeleMessage help financial firms to record mobile messages and monitor phone calls done through WhatsApp and WeChat to comply with regulatory mandates.

Significantly, WhatsApp and WeChat received special mention and a separate use case was created exclusively for them. It shows the increased popularity of these instant messaging platforms in business communications. Regulatory agencies are giving a lot of importance to WhatsApp call recording and WeChat call recording as means for regulatory compliance.

Use Case 2 – Remote access and collaboration platforms

The pandemic and the subsequent necessity to implement work from home arrangements have forced banks to reconsider their traditional form of working including reliance on on-premises access to data, applications, files and face-to-face meetings. While relying more on digital access of information, banks should stay alert to risk management considerations on how to be compliant with regulations and how to securely handle sensitive information.

Banks have made a range of technology solutions including video conferencing with some additional security settings including end-to-end encryption to ensure that all kinds of meetings can be held irrespective of where the employees are situated.

To make sure that data depended tasks of banks function unhindered banks are working to resolve the issue of on-premises or decentralized data repositories as it would be difficult to access them from remote locations. Therefore, some banks are moving their data to centralized and cloud-based data management solutions. Such a move will bring in the much-needed additional scalability for the secure data handled by banks.

Use Case 3 – Automating the process of granting COVID-19 relief

There has been a significant reduction in economic activity around the world due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It has put stress on several industries and to tide over the crisis, government and financial authorities around the world have introduced various financial relief measures. But at the same time, banks are finding it difficult to process relevant documentation and formalize the arrangement promptly to assuage the pressure on businesses and industries.

To overcome this bottleneck, banks are using robotic process automation (RPA) to perform repetitive and time-consuming processes. To give an example, the robot will pick the borrower’s application and will check if the borrower is eligible for the postponement of payment by using the whitelist checking and modify the payment terms. The robot will also send letters of confirmation to the borrowers. The use of RPA can also help the banks to reduce the operational risk caused by human or manual errors.

Use Case 4 – Social distancing and contract tracing solutions

Social distancing norms can range from mandatory lockdowns to establishing space limits between people. Technology solutions can be used to effectively enforce social distancing norms. With the help of artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT), cameras can collect visual footage and statistical patterns or spatial data and then analyze them to measure the distance between two customers. If there are instances of people breaching the social distancing norms, then timely alerts can be given.

As social distancing norms are being relaxed some banks may also consider reducing the proportion of employees who are working from home. But banks must make sure to create a safe environment for employees who are asked to come to the branch and work there. They must be alerted if they are in danger of coming in contact with potential or confirmed Covid-19 cases.

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TeleMessage captures and retains mobile content, including mobile SMS messages, voice calls, and WeChat conversations from corporate or BYOD mobile phones to ensure compliance with various data protection regulations. The messages are securely and reliably retained within TeleMessage servers or forwarded to your choice archiving data storage vendor.

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TeleMessage offers cross-carrier and international mobile text & calls archiving for corporate and BYOD phones. Visit our website at www.telemessage.com to learn more about our mobile archiving products.

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