UOB working with apps to provide greater convenience

Mr Tan, managing director of MGG Mobileapps, which created an app for schools to take students' attendance and contact their parents.
Mr Tan, managing director of MGG Mobileapps, which created an app for schools to take students' attendance and contact their parents.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

United Overseas Bank (UOB) is working on ways to make it easier for management corporations that operate in condominiums as well as private school administrators to collect fees.

These bodies must wrestle with mountains of paperwork to carry out many of their functions.

But UOB wants to simplify the process by allowing apps used by such bodies for various functions to also employ the bank's mobile payment system.

Take HiLife, a mobile app developed by Chinese developer Qingjian's unit HiLife Interactive for use by condo management corporations, commonly known as MCSTs.

The app helps home owners with services such as interior design and booking of condo facilities.

Mr Eric Tham, UOB head of group commercial banking, said the app will soon let MCSTs using HiLife receive and process payments for monthly maintenance fees and facility bookings electronically.

This could, in turn, give the bank opportunities to cross-sell its products.

There are about 3,200 MCSTs here, collecting annual fees of about $1.1 billion. Around 30 per cent bank with UOB.

Using mobile applications for routine operations could bring productivity savings of up to 30 per cent as less manpower will be required to collect payments.

HiLife Interactive sales director Yen Chong said the app allows residents to "enjoy a wider range of payment modes and can also electronically pay for third-party services such as cleaning, laundry and plumbing".

The app, released last year, is used by 80,000 condominium households, making up about 25 per cent of condo households in Singapore.

This could mean there is more potential for HiLife to grow, and for UOB to attract consumers looking for more convenience.

UOB is also working with MGG Mobileapps, which created an app for schools to use for taking attendance at classes, sending out electronic consent forms and messaging parents.

MGG Mobileapps managing director Steven Tan said the app is used by teachers and parents of students at around 100 Ministry of Education (MOE) schools.

It has also just started to expand into pre-school, private schools and international schools, including an international school in Malaysia and a group that provides student care services here.

The payment solution in MGG's app is aimed at private and international schools. There are about 600 such schools in Singapore, collecting around $1.5 billion in fees a year.

Mr Tan said: "We were drawn to the partnership with UOB as it has a complete suite of payment solutions that are suitable for the private education market, such as credit card payment for mobile and its virtual account service."

It is estimated that schools could save 25 hours a month on administrative work by going digital.

Mr Tham said this "presents an opportunity for us to capture billions of dollars in current and saving account balances from the app users".

"Now we have a significant number of schools having accounts with the bank. We can approach others and invite them to sign on with this app, which can differentiate them from those who don't.

"Parents are happy, and parents who pay through our cards can find financing options as well."

Mr Tham said the bank looks for technology firms that could be "game changers that could impact the traditional businesses of our customers".

"Imagine if another bank worked with these tech platforms to provide payment, collection and banking services. Our business could also be affected.

"Alliances among winners and being quick-to-market are important factors so we've chosen apps like HiLife, which are dominant in the market, to work with."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2016, with the headline 'UOB working with apps to provide greater convenience'. Subscribe