OCBC steps up youth slant with NUS store

The Frank by OCBC Store in NUS' Stephen Riady Centre, University Town, is an open-concept bank branch that aims to upend the traditional image of a bank.
The Frank by OCBC Store in NUS' Stephen Riady Centre, University Town, is an open-concept bank branch that aims to upend the traditional image of a bank.PHOTO:OCBC BANK

OCBC Bank has opened a fourth Frank by OCBC Store in National University of Singapore's (NUS) Stephen Riady Centre in University Town.

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

The store spanning 947sq ft is said to be Singapore's first open-concept bank branch. There are no shutters or barriers, allowing the premises to stay open all day.

Through this 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 Mr 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 youth 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 with being famous (32 per cent).

They are interested in bigger societal issues and new technologies, but are less interested in entrepreneurship and freelancing. 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 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 students will feel more comfortable browsing through the store and asking questions about banking products and services.

Frank was set up in 2011 with the aim of improving financial literacy among Singapore youth.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2019, with the headline 'OCBC steps up youth slant with NUS store'. Print Edition | Subscribe