DBS to combine online banking with physical presence, CEO says

FILE PHOTO: A DBS bank signage is pictured in Singapore September 5, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

For Southeast Asia’s largest bank, going digital doesn’t mean tearing down all the bricks and mortar.

“In addition to a fundamentally digital presence, we are beginning to figure you need some points of presence for the time being to create brand credibility and to service the last mile,” DBS Group Holdings Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Piyush Gupta said Thursday.

Gupta, 59, will take that approach to his expansion in Asia, where Singapore-based DBS has been building online banking operations in India and Indonesia. He said he plans to do the same in other markets over the next few years.

“In India we established a subsidiary so we are creating more points of presence,” Gupta said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “There’s more kiosks, booths, some basic branches. And we already had that in Indonesia.”

DBS and its traditional banking peers face the prospect of more domestic competition from technology firms after Singapore authorities announced plans to award digital banking licenses to non-banks. The U.K. and Hong Kong are among major economies that have allowed virtual lenders.

Gupta said DBS remains open to “bolt-on” acquisitions as part of its strategy of augmenting digital services with a physical presence. The bank’s 2017 purchase of retail and wealth businesses from Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. showed that if you take on physical assets and overlay the digital strategy “you can actually create value very quickly,” he said.

As online services expand, DBS has seen foot traffic in its Singapore branches decline 5% annually over the past few years, Gupta said. As a result, he said the bank will likely need fewer outlets in the future, although they won’t disappear completely.

“You still need some branches” to maintain branding and last-mile services, he said. “You certainly don’t need a branch distribution system for sales and engaging with customers at scale.”

Bloomberg

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.