Paid Post: DBS
Revealed: the DBS
mission to make
banking ‘invisible’

Banks have increased access and convenience for customers by going digital. But DBS is taking digital banking to another level to make it work harder for you, with an intuitive and intelligent experience powered by advanced data analytics that is complemented by a ‘phygital’ approach for the best of both the online and offline worlds

Advertising partner

July 12, 2021

When Apple coined the phrase “There’s an app for that” in 2009, it quickly became viral. Fast-forward to 2021, and it describes our everyday reality. The ability to access services via smartphones is not just a luxury, it is now an expectation – and that applies to banking as well.

DBS, named “Best Bank in the World” in 2020 for the third consecutive year by New York-based financial publication Global Finance, is not only meeting, but exceeding that expectation by becoming a leader in digitalising the banking experience. Its efforts are seeing results:

2/3 of DBS customers have opened their wealth management accounts or applied for credit cards through digital channels accessed via mobile phones and computers.

This success puts DBS at the forefront of a global trend in banking, while showing that the bank has its finger on the pulse of customers’ needs and wants.

As the world proceeds into the fourth industrial revolution, an era in which digitalisation has become a way of life, the banking landscape is also experiencing sea changes.

Numerous studies have pointed to the inevitability of widespread fintech adoption:

EY Global Fintech Adoption
index on consumer
adoption rate in Hong Kong:
KPMG report from November 2020: consumers expect retailers, banks and insurers to deliver enhanced digital experiences.
more bank customers use apps to open accounts, compared to before the pandemic.
more manage their wealth through apps, compared to before the pandemic.
* KPMG survey participants: 12,334 consumers globally, with 1,000 in Hong Kong across four sectors (grocery, non-grocery, banks and insurance)

While digital banking is nothing new, the Covid-19 pandemic turned it into a necessity, as people became concerned about the health risks posed by crowded places and social-distancing measures were introduced. Today, it is a widespread habit among customers, as they have come to appreciate the convenience provided by advancing technologies.

Understanding what customers want in the digital age

Ajay Mathur, managing director and head of consumer banking group and wealth management at DBS Bank (Hong Kong), observes that customers are no longer considering only price, product or convenience for their banking experience. “Instead, in the future it will be based on digital speed, on simplicity and contextuality,” he says.

DBS also believes banking should not be limited to where customers are located, but rather make it available to them beyond borders. With that in mind, the bank is applying its digital capabilities to empower customers to optimise their financial well-being in Asia – where the growth story is – and enable them to participate in the accelerated growth of the Greater Bay Area via the GBA Wealth Management Connect scheme.

These ideas set the foundation of DBS’ vision for the future: the next generation of digital banking will not only be borderless, it will also become so intelligent and intuitive that it will be virtually invisible to customers.

What does that mean? It means DBS can provide the exact information and services you need, without you having to ask for it. How is that possible? By leveraging data and artificial intelligence (AI).

Mathur points out that banks will have to operate like platform companies, which facilitate exchanges between consumers and the producers of goods or services – think Facebook, Uber or PayPal. Their user experiences are constantly improved and updated so seamlessly that customers don’t even notice.

Ajay Mathur
“In the future, [customer experience] will be based on digital speed, on simplicity and contextuality”
Ajay Mathur
Managing director and head of consumer
banking group and wealth management,
DBS Bank (Hong Kong)

“Working in a data lake, we have more than 50 data scientists generating over 1 million hyper-personalised customer communications in Hong Kong, with a sub-team to focus on AI and machine learning,” says Maggie Du, executive director and head of business analytics and planning at DBS Bank (Hong Kong). “We also have what we call ‘insight providers’. They are very familiar with not only data, but also the business. They are able to interpret the data and insights, and then we have a team to deploy those insights to the customer.”

Data analysis and artificial intelligence enable DBS to deliver more than
hyper-personalised messages per month
DBS personalised insights and triggers reach 90% of DBS digibank HK app users via tailored communications As of May 2021

The bank also consolidated its range of apps into just two, DBS digibank HK and DBS Card+ HK, which cover the essentials across two categories: banking and wealth management, and lifestyle, borrowing and payments.

Maggie Du
“We have more than 50 data scientists generating over 1 million hyper-personalised customer communications in Hong Kong”
Maggie Du
Executive director and head of
business analytics and planning,
DBS Bank (Hong Kong)

With these new apps, DBS has significantly simplified its digital approval processes so that customers can open a wealth management account or take out a loan in a matter of minutes. They also support a more intuitive and highly personalised banking experience.

DBS Card+
DBS Card+ HK
App launched in January 2021
  • DBS Card+ is the first app in Hong Kong to instantly issue credit cards and disburse loans
  • Card applications via Card+ app have exceeded 95%
  • Up to April this year, wealth management transactions through digital means
    reached 80% of total transactions.
DBS Digibank
DBS digibank HK
App launched in April 2021
  • With the app, it takes only 10 minutes to open a wealth management account
  • Customers can invest in equities across seven international markets
  • Trades are made in just three steps

Be informed in real time with intuitive banking

For example, “smart triggers” are delivered to customers’ mobile screens through DBS digibank, alerting them about forex price movements based on their portfolio holdings and past activity to allow for prompt decisions on investment opportunities.

For customers who want to be more involved in their personal investments, DBS uses advanced analytics to match each app user to the most relevant investment articles – called Chief Investment Office (CIO) insights – for their portfolio through an automatic, “always-on” recommendation engine.

Belinda Hsieh
“We all hate to miss out on opportunities … our CIO insights surface the most relevant customised opportunities … at the right time”
Belinda Hsieh
Executive director and head of Treasures
investment product and advisory,
DBS Bank (Hong Kong)

“We all hate to miss out on opportunities, yet we don’t have time to analyse the markets on a daily basis,” says Belinda Hsieh, executive director and head of Treasures investment product and advisory at DBS Bank (Hong Kong).

“For customers today, context is everything, and our CIO insights surface the most relevant customised opportunities via the appropriate channel and at the right time, so that investments run seemingly on auto-pilot and in an non-intrusive way.”

The app learns the currencies you use most often and sends you alerts when there are good rates.
The app spots opportunities that suit your portfolio and sends you relevant insights from the Chief Investment Office at the right time, allowing for prompt decisions.

Pioneering the ‘phygital’ experience

While technology provides us with flexibility and convenience, it cannot fully replace the physical world. So as it offers cutting-edge digital services, DBS understands that customers continue to value offline interactions.

DBS’ in-house data also shows that while many of its customers start their banking journey through digital channels, they want to keep the option of going to a branch for in-person service when specific needs arise.

This observation is in line with a study released by global professional services firm PwC in November 2019, titled “Virtual Banking: Customers Take Charge – Are You Ready?”.

It surveyed 1,516 Hong Kong-based users of banking services, and found that more than half preferred in-person services when it came to wealth management. The report also showed that 70 per cent of Hongkongers surveyed did their own financial planning, and the majority of them also wanted more personalised and relevant information and tools to help with that.

What Hong Kong bank customers want in wealth management services
57 %
0 %
What Hong Kong bank customers want in wealth management services
0 %

* “Virtual Banking: Customers Take Charge” study by PwC; data from November 2019 survey of 1,516 customers in Hong Kong

As such, DBS offers a “phygital” experience that crosses a variety of channels and considers the customer journey between the physical and digital worlds, in order to ensure that it is as seamless as possible. While the bank’s online tools provide convenience, customers are still empowered to conduct their business in person when it comes to wealth planning advisory services.

“Our customers are very digital-savvy,” says Maggie Yung, managing director and head of digital, customer experience and ecosystems at DBS Bank (Hong Kong). “But we still offer them the option to meet our relationship managers, investment consultants and so forth – to make sure DBS banking is something that they can touch, feel and see.”

A branch of DBS, in-person customer service.

Maggie Yung
“With AI and data-driven intelligence transforming the world of wealth management, fear of missing out is a thing of the past”
Maggie Yung
Managing director and head of digital,
customer experience and ecosystems,
DBS Bank (Hong Kong)

Through advanced technology, DBS seeks to offer customers the best experience both online and offline, with access to the services they want at any time. Even as connectivity and mobile devices become more sophisticated, the objective will remain the same: giving people more freedom in how they conduct business.

“With AI and data-driven intelligence transforming the world of wealth management, fear of missing out is a thing of the past,” Yung says.

“Customers nowadays want to be in control, they want empowerment. They want to choose how and when to interact with us. We make information and tools available to them so they can make the best wealth planning decisions.”

The saying “information is power” has been a long-standing truth, but the way in which we obtain it has changed. While the online world now allows us to access everything we need to know with just a few clicks and taps, AI takes that a step further by bringing relevant and timely information to us before we even ask for it. Get ready to live in the future, starting today.