OCBC Bank opens latest FRANK store at NUS University Town

OCBC said the new store at University Town is Singapore's first open-concept bank branch. There are no shutters or barriers to keep people out, allowing the premises to stay open all day. PHOTO: OCBC BANK

SINGAPORE - OCBC Bank has opened a fourth FRANK by OCBC Store - at the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Stephen Riady Centre at University Town.

The store will be accessible to students round the clock and features tables and chairs, a large LED screen, an evaporative cooling system, as well as a cashless payment snack machine. This was designed following an extensive research project which involved surveying nearly 900 students and young working adults.

The new store, spanning 947 square feet, is Singapore's first open-concept bank branch. There are no shutters or barriers to keep people out, allowing the premises to stay open all day. The space was acquired by the bank after the previous tenant, a sports shop, closed down.

Through this unusual operating system, OCBC hopes that students will use the store as a space to study, interact with friends and relax, upending the traditional image of a bank.

"Customers were telling us banks are boring!" said Dennis Tan, OCBC Singapore's head of consumer financial services.

"They can't relate to them. These young people's feedback is important, and we're going to change the entire engagement model to reach out to them."

With statistics revealing that the number of FRANK account holders aged between 16 and 29 has increased 12-fold between 2011 and 2018, OCBC's market strategy to target a younger demographic group has paid off.

In order to appeal to the younger generation, the bank carried out an annual survey - the FRANKly Asked Questions - before embarking on its latest venture at NUS. The survey aimed to ascertain what youths today prioritise and why they save, to help OCBC develop more comprehensive programmes on financial literacy to meet millennials' needs.

The survey showed that millennials largely eschew power and fame for self-fulfilment and caring for the community, with 86 per cent of respondents motivated to understand their inner selves, compared to being famous (32 per cent).

They are interested in bigger societal issues and new technologies, but are less interested in entrepreneurship and freelancing. In this respect, their top five most important social causes are human rights (82 per cent), poverty (81 per cent), the environment (79 per cent), helping the elderly (79 per cent) and mental health awareness (79 per cent). They are also more excited about the Internet of Things (73 per cent) and Artificial Intelligence (62 per cent) than going cashless (59 per cent) or self-driving cars (57 per cent).

With this data to back up the revamped branch structure, the bank hopes that students will feel more comfortable browsing through the new store and asking questions of staff about banking products and services.

"Come, use our space, use it for your own needs," said Leong Huang Zi, OCBC Bank's experience designer, group customer experience.

FRANK was set up in 2011 with the aim of improving financial literacy among Singapore youths.

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