Insight & Analysis

60 Second Interview: Manish Kohli, Head of Global Payments Solutions, HSBC

Published: Jan 2024

Supporting the digital journey

Manish Kohli, Head of Global Payments Solutions at HSBC, discusses innovation, the new economy and his expectations for the treasury landscape in the year ahead.

Manish Kohli, Head of Global Payments Solutions, HSBC

How would you describe your background?

I think of myself as a global citizen – my heritage is Indian; my formative years were spent in Africa; I’m British by nationality and I have lived in the US for over a decade.

When I started my career, I was keen to work for transaction banks that were global in reach. I moved to London in 2005, managing various payment products for the EMEA region, and from there moved to New York, where I currently lead HSBC’s Global Payments Solutions business.

How is your global team structured and what is your strategy?

My global team includes an extended team of operations, technology and financial leaders who are organised by regions and domains or product leads. As a big fan of distributed leadership, I like to have members of the leadership team located around the world. All our leaders are brand ambassadors for the business, and everyone in the team has international experience.

HSBC has been helping our customers explore new trade corridors, expand into global geographies and become truly international for over 150 years. Since our whole history has been about connecting East and West, our strategy is designed to work in both emerging and developed markets.

What are your clients focusing on?

When I speak to our clients, common themes include growth and efficiency, supply chain optimisation, and risk mitigation in light of macroeconomic events. It’s interesting to see how the level of sophistication of these dialogues and reliance on new technology solutions has increased over the last few years.

As companies adopt digital business models such as direct-to-consumer, treasurers are also looking at what role they can play in supporting this. And resiliency is also becoming more important as corporations focus on the sustainability of their supply chains.

What trends are you seeing across different markets?

Our clients are focusing on common themes across geographies such as growth, efficiency and risk mitigation, but the weighting of these is different in different markets.

For clients in India and ASEAN, for example, many companies are particularly focused on growth, as well as on their exposures to geopolitical centres. In China, despite recent headwinds we are seeing a huge wave of innovation in areas such as the digital economy and electric vehicles that will continue to propel growth.

The Middle East presents a large growth opportunity for many clients, as the region moves away from oil into other commodities and into local manufacturing of goods and services. We are also seeing the development of new trade corridors leading to Asia and to Latin America and the US. This very much plays to our strengths as an international bank with a large presence in the MENAT and Asia region.

What about your clients in the new economy space?

This is a topic very close to our hearts – we have been very public in our approach to the innovation economy and our acquisition of the UK subsidiary of SVB (Silicon Valley Bank) further advanced our credentials in this area.

Many digital companies are born global, and their growth and expansion is not limited by bricks and mortar. However, much of the new economy operates in areas that require access to superior cash management, payment tools and capabilities.

These companies test and challenge us with their sophisticated needs, and also offer great partnership opportunities as we are always looking to enhance our digital capabilities. We make it simple for them to do business across geographies, which is why many of these clients naturally gravitate towards us.

How do you see the landscape evolving during 2024?

One big shift we expect to see is in the interest rate environment, because the general consensus in the market is that we’re close to the top.

However, I think we’ll see a lot more in 2024 of what we saw in 2023 – dramatic growth in certain sectors, continuing innovation, and the further acceleration of digitisation. Treasurers are keen to embrace technology and use data in sophisticated ways, not just to analyse but to predict. They are playing a larger role in influencing the strategy and business model of their organisations, and are increasingly oriented towards the digital journey.

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