The Digital Way Forward for Banking in Singapore | Asian Banking & Finance
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The Digital Way Forward for Banking in Singapore

By Brendan Carney

The internet economy for ASEAN is expected to grow to US$300 billion in 2025 with e-Commerce becoming its biggest sector as published in the Google and Temasek’s 2019 e-Conomy report. Consumers have adopted digital for day-to-day lifestyle and financial needs and we see that in Singapore, over 88% of Singaporeans are online and 57% have either made a purchase or paid a bill through online platforms*, according to We Are Social’s Digital 2020 Singapore report. This trend is set to accelerate especially with 5G technology implementation and consumers having greater access to a variety of digital products and services.

With the recent COVID-19 situation, this digital way of life has quickly shifted from a value-add to an essential. As enhanced precautions are being taken around physical interactions in order to keep everyone safe, banking services continue to be easily accessible and seamless for customers, as they carry out most of their transactions and manage their finances digitally in a safe and secure manner.

At Citi, for example, close to 100% of financial transactions can be served digitally and over 85% of clients are already actively using the bank’s digital platforms for their daily banking needs. Investment transactions including trades can also be completed remotely and securely using digital solutions.

In fact, most banks had started investing and developing their digital capabilities before the fintech industry grew. In Citi, for example, the consumer banking business began its digital transformation journey several years back. We studied our clients’ engagement behaviour to gain a deeper understanding of their needs, and building out a mobile first strategy whilst developing meaningful digital partnerships.

Beyond understanding clients and investing in technology, it is important that banks also focus on the customer journey to ensure a seamless banking experience for its clients.

Earlier this year, Citi launched a new and improved version of our mobile app, which further delivered on our promise of being client-centric. New functions coupled with a more intuitive and personalised user interface provided a one-stop convenient solution for all of our customers’ banking needs. Citi also enhanced the customer journey for potential credit card customers, with more than one in two new card customers now acquired via digital channels.

There has also been a distinct shift away from visiting a physical branch for daily transactions. We saw transactions at our branches and ATMs reduced by over 20% from 2018 to 2019. 

Even though customers have become more comfortable with digital, there is still a significant proportion of clients who prefer face-to-face interactions for more complex and in-depth discussions on insurance, mortgage and wealth management. The role of branches have also evolved and it is no longer a location where basic financial and non-financial transactions are carried out. It is now a new holistic space where clients can have personal wealth conversations with their relationship managers. With that in mind, Citi is planning to bring a whole new retail banking experience to our clients in the last quarter of 2020.

As banks continue to evolve along with the new digital banking entrants to the industry, there is no doubt that customers will continue to shape the way forward for how banks should operate and the type of experiences that would be relevant to them. Only firms with razor-sharp client focus and strong business fundamentals, will be able to grow and rise above the challenge as the next wave of transformation in banking rushes in.

*Percentage of the population aged 15+ that reports owning or using each financial product or service.

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