DBS named World's Best Bank by Euromoney, a first for an Asian bank

DBS group chief executive Piyush Gupta receiving Euromoney's World's Best Bank award in London on July 10, 2019. PHOTO: DBS

DBS has been named the World's Best Bank by Euromoney magazine in a first for an Asian bank.

Euromoney editor Clive Horwood said DBS represented what a bank today should look like, noting: "No other institution has worked so hard to embrace and lead digital disruption."

He added that DBS had embedded "digital innovation into everything it does - with a tangible positive impact on the bottom line".

The bank has a "clear-sighted focus on sustainability that positions it well for the years ahead", Mr Horwood noted.

DBS Group Holdings' first-quarter net profit rose 9 per cent to $1.65 billion from $1.52 billion in the same period last year on the back of higher interest rates and growth in non-trade loans.

The bank's latest award follows two other honours last year.

Global Finance magazine named it Best Bank in the World last August, and Financial Times publication The Banker named it Bank of the Year - Global three months later.

They were both nods to the digital transformation the bank has undertaken in its drive to be a technology company.

For example, it has launched a digital bank in India that has acquired more than 2.5 million customers while needing only a fifth of the headcount compared with the traditional brick-and-mortar set-up. It also has a digital bank in Indonesia that started in August 2017 which now has over 460,000 customers.

DBS changed the way it worked to improve its customer service as part of its digital drive. It devised a system that pre-empted customers having to telephone the call centre for help, among other initiatives.

For instance, DBS noticed that customers would call the bank if their cards were retained by automated teller machines and they needed help to retrieve them.

Instead, the bank now sends a text to customers before they can call to reassure them that it is working on retrieving the card.

The latest award was presented to DBS group chief executive Piyush Gupta in London on Wednesday. "With this award, we are now the first bank ever to concurrently hold three of the most prestigious global best bank honours."

Associate Professor Lawrence Loh of the National University of Singapore said DBS' hat-trick would put it in very strong standing against future competition from digital banks that may open in the Republic. The Monetary Authority of Singapore said last month that it will issue up to five new digital bank licences for both full and wholesale banks to players who may not have an established record in banking.

Euromoney also named DBS as Asia's Best Bank and Singapore's Best Bank at its Awards for Excellence ceremony on Wednesday. Euromoney had named DBS as the world's best digital bank in 2016 and last year, and the world's best bank for small and medium-size enterprises last year.

Past winners of the World's Best Bank award include Bank of America, BNP Paribas, Citi and UBS.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2019, with the headline DBS named World's Best Bank by Euromoney, a first for an Asian bank. Subscribe