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BNY Mellon’s new APAC chair is a blockchain vet who spent a few years with Algorand just before she joined Mellon.

A common criticism of big banks that claim to be technology companies is that they’re led by bankers, not people from the tech sector.

BNY Mellon has appointed a chairwoman for Asia Pacific who, although steeped in custody banking and operations – notably as Asia COO for State Street – has also notched two years at Algorand, a blockchain company.

Fangfang Chen says she had no intention to return to the formal banking world. “I was having a great time at Algorand,” she told DigFin. But she decided the only way to make meaningful advances in nex-gen fintech such as tokenization was to combine startups with financial institutions.

“To really drive adoption will require a partnership between tech companies and established banks,” she said.

Going for growth

OK, so now she’s got the top seat at the table for BNY Mellon’s securities services business in Asia Pacific. What’s the vision?

First, Chen has inherited a strategy for digitization that the bank is already executing. It amounts to growing the regional business to match Asia’s growth dynamic. APAC only accounts for 7 percent of BNY Mellon’s global revenues. Chen says she needs to double that before the region can have a more influential voice in the decision-making that goes on in New York, London and Boston.

Natural dynamics will help: she says with capital flows into mainland China this year having topped $1 trillion, there’s a lot of business for global custodians like BNY Mellon – which already has $41 trillion of assets under custody or administration, as of March 2021, on behalf of asset owners and asset managers.

The bank also has a range of client types that includes corporate, private and investment banks, providing treasury services, collateral services, and other businesses beyond clearance, settlement, and data analytics.

Digitizing asset services

But to embed faster growth will require a tech strategy to deliver a better customer exper...

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