Nearly all of the top retail banks in the US and Europe are still operating core systems from the 1960s, based on creaking mainframe technology. Frequently, this is attached to a chaotic IT estate of some 600 surrounding applications or more, rendering the core systems environment not only inflexible but quite often untouchable. - The Banker
In contrast, new banks in emerging markets, "in particular Asia-Pacific countries including India, China, Taiwan, Thailand and Korea, have competed or initiated projects to replace their core systems, and in turn rationalise their IT estates. ...in 2007 some 50% of Asia-Pacific banks began investing in projects to reduce the costs of running core systems, and to rationalise their systems architecture. ...new core technologies have evolved highly agile component-based architectures, which are frequently inexpensive to operate and easy to integrate."
A main advantage of the more techno-savvy banks is the speed with which they can react to market opportunities by launching new products with "hyper-speed to market". They are ahead in their mobile banking offerings, and have expanded ATMs into multi-functional service areas where customers can arrange loans, pay tuition, and on and on.
For years western banks knew they should upgrade their systems and they even planned upgrades, but according to the article they were "distracted by revenue growth". Another unfortunate side effect of our recent bubble, I suppose.