DBS named world's best digital bank

From left: Euromoney editor Clive Horwood, DBS chief executive Piyush Gupta, and emcee Rob Brydon at the finance magazine’s Awards for Excellence event in London.
From left: Euromoney editor Clive Horwood, DBS chief executive Piyush Gupta, and emcee Rob Brydon at the finance magazine’s Awards for Excellence event in London. PHOTO: COURTESY OF DBS BANK

Finance magazine's award reflects bank's changes to core systems and culture: CEO

DBS Bank's recent coup in being named the world's best digital bank is testament to the strides it has taken in transforming the bank's core systems and culture, chief executive Piyush Gupta said yesterday.

But Mr Gupta added that the work was far from over.

DBS was given the accolade last week in London by finance magazine Euromoney at its annual Awards for Excellence.

The magazine also named DBS as Asia's best bank - the first time that a Singapore bank has been given the gong, which has historically been won by the Asian operations of American and European banks.

Speaking to the media in Singapore, Mr Gupta said the bank was extremely pleased to have been given the digital bank award over fellow shortlisted nominees BBVA, Citi and ING - all global players well known for innovation.

Euromoney cited the pervasive nature of DBS' digital strategy, which has spread across all aspects of the bank, from corporate and consumer banking to the DBS Foundation. "I think we have been able to create a culture and environment which is really all-pervasive. In fact, I like to say now we are a 22,000-people start-up," Mr Gupta said.

Since 2009, the bank has spent "almost a couple of billion dollars" on rebuilding its core banking systems and IT architecture, which has enabled it to be nimbler and develop new applications, products and services much faster than before.

While the big investments are out of the way, DBS still has work to do in getting its tech infrastructure to the next level, Mr Gupta said.

"Our technology, while it is now very efficient and nimble, is still not cloud-based, and so, for the next two to three years, our agenda is to migrate further to cloud-based technology. Today, we still run on mainframes and large machines."

At the same time, the bank makes sure to work with a range of external partners, such as A*Star, Microsoft and the Singapore Management University, to "experiment with everything", Mr Gupta added.

"We have experiments in biometrics, voice, block chain, cloud technology, data analytics - we have a lot of experiments running in different areas."

DBS' digital transformation has also meant that the bank is taking a more active approach towards retraining staff so that their skills stay up to date, he said, adding that some jobs will likely become obsolete with technology.

The bank has also changed the way it hires new talent, he added.

"We want people who have skills. I'm happy to hire someone with a polytechnic diploma with graphic design skills, for example, or is a UX (user experience) programmer. That's a lot more relevant to me than somebody who's got a degree in history."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2016, with the headline 'DBS named world's best digital bank'. Print Edition | Subscribe