Euromoney, December 10 2020
This article is part of the Euromoney 25 Series
Clearly no bank welcomed Covid, but one would imagine that DBS was better equipped to deal with it than most.
The enforced transition of ordinary people from mainstream to digital channels, which has been a fixture of customer behaviour all over the world, ought to play to the strengths of a bank that has been a pioneer in digital transformation and has set much of its strategy of the last seven years or so upon achieving it.
So, did DBS do better than the rest? Yes and no.
Clearly, it was well-positioned for the changes that came.
“Covid just allowed us to attract everybody in the world to accelerate the digitalization agenda,” says chief executive Piyush Gupta, speaking at a recent Euromoney LiveStream event. “It wasn’t a dramatic shift, but it was a massive acceleration.”
There was widespread take-up of digital products and platforms as one might expect, with a fourfold increase in people aged over 60 adopting digital channels, for example.
Gupta noticed three things from the bank’s experience through Covid.
“In many cases, we thought we had complete digitization, but when you have a Covid, you realize you are not really 100% there, you are 90%,” he says. “The last mile proved to be quite challenging because it still meant that the customer could not complete everything, so we had to scramble for the first two weeks.”
So, for example, despite its image of digital enlightenment, there were some systems DBS had been unwilling to open up for remote access – and that had to change.
“That is going to have some profound consequences. I don’t think it is the end of the big office, but without doubt you’re going to see a lot of flexibility in the workplace… that’s an opportunity to reimagine the future of work,” he says, refining one of his most used catchphrases of recent years: reimagining banking.
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