Harnessing Technology to Make Banking Simpler, Smarter and Safer
In 2018, we continued to deepen our digital capabilities to create distinctive banking experiences for our customers. We harnessed technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and data analytics to draw insights from transaction data, enhancing our understanding of customers and our ability to recommend the most appropriate product and service at the right time.
In Singapore, we were the first bank to digitalise the application and approval process for products, including deposit accounts, credit and debit cards, personal loans and secured loans such as car and home loans. The process taps MyInfo, a government service that enables citizens and residents to manage the use of their personal data for simpler online applications, and removes the need for customers to submit multiple paper copies of documents. We also built a secure connection to the Credit Bureau Singapore and our proprietary credit assessment engine to facilitate an instant decision on applications. This means that customers can apply for and open an account in less than 15 minutes, instead of up to five days which the process used to take.
Our customers can also use our digital account opening service in Vietnam, where UOB was the first Singapore bank to establish a subsidiary bank. Consumers in Vietnam can simply download our mobile banking app, UOB Mighty, and provide the necessary information required to open a bank account. To finalise the process, our associate will visit the customer at their convenience for the regulation-required, face-to-face verification and to provide the customer with their account details. This mobile account opening service, which saves consumers up to 80 per cent of the average time taken to open an account, was awarded the Online Banking Initiative of the Year, Vietnam at the Asian Banking & Finance Retail Banking Awards 2018. The award was in recognition of our efforts to create a frictionless digital experience to meet the needs of the country’s digitally-savvy population.
In China, our UOB Direct Banking mobile app also enables our customers to open a bank account, to manage their finances and to make investments digitally.
For the online shoppers and international travellers among our customers, we launched Mighty FX in Singapore for them to trade and to transact quickly and conveniently in 11 major currencies without having to pay any currency conversion fees. With Mighty FX, which is embedded in our all-in-one UOB Mighty app, our customers can review current and historical rates and choose to set alerts for their preferred rates to make a conversion. This makes it more convenient for them to make online purchases from overseas merchants, to set aside foreign currencies for their holidays overseas or to use the account to help build up their foreign currency savings. It is offered to customers with the UOB One Account, KrisFlyer UOB Account, UOB i-Account, UOB Wealth Premium Account or UOB Privilege Account.
UOB Mighty FX is popular among our customers for changing currencies in real time or for setting alerts to convert the currencies at a rate they prefer.
Another feature in our mobile banking app is UOB Mighty Secure, a digital security token function which enables our customers to authenticate their internet and mobile banking transactions. This service, first launched in Singapore in 2016, was made available to our customers in Malaysia in 2018. Using UOB Mighty Secure, customers can transact from anywhere. As long as they have access to the internet, they will be able to receive their security token via their UOB Mighty app. This is more convenient than receiving a SMS One-Time-Password that is dependent on a mobile network service. The digital security token also suits consumers who use their smartphones more frequently and regularly to bank and to make payments.
As a leader in payments across the region, we continue to create and to offer our customers innovative payment options in support of their country’s cashless initiatives. For example, in Malaysia we enabled on UOB Mighty, DuitNow, which is a digital payment facility by Payments Network Malaysia. DuitNow enables consumers to transfer funds conveniently and securely to individuals or businesses by using their mobile phone numbers, national registration identity card or business registration numbers. Our customers in Malaysia can also use their UOB debit cards to top up their e-wallet on WeChat Pay, a major mobile service payment provider that has expanded its service from China into Malaysia.
In addition, we were the first foreign bank in China to enable UnionPay’s Quick Response (QR) code mobile payments when we integrated the feature into our UOB Direct Banking mobile app. Our customers can make payments easily to merchants in China and in close to 20 other countries including Singapore and Thailand.
To encourage greater use of cashless payments in Singapore, we participated in the Infocommunications Media Development Authority (IMDA)’s e-Payment Learning Journey initiative to help seniors benefit from the ease of mobile payments. Our colleagues helped the silver generation to download UOB Mighty and guided them on using PayNow and the Scan QR feature on the mobile app to make fund transfers and payments.
Tapping Partner Ecosystems to Meet Consumers’ Lifestyle and Financial Needs
With our customers’ interests at the heart of all that we do, we seek to create solutions that help them manage their daily and future needs, however simple or complex. One of the ways we do this is by establishing and tapping the benefits of partner ecosystems to offer solutions that address the pain points faced by consumers in their different life stages.
In 2018, we teamed up with seven car dealers – Cycle & Carriage Singapore, Inchcape Singapore, Motor Image Enterprises, Performance Premium Selection Limited, Premium Automobiles, Tan Chong Motor Sales and Trans Eurokars – and mobile and online classified marketplace, Carousell, to set up Singapore’s largest car ecosystem. In conjunction with this collaboration, we also launched the first-in-market, fully-digital car loan solution, fuelled by our credit processing engine, and a secure link to MyInfo and the Credit Bureau Singapore. This removes the need for manual form filling, the furnishing of paper documents and long processing times. Instead of an average of three working days taken for customers to have their car loan application approved, the solution takes only 15 minutes.
UOB’s car ecosystem offers consumers a simpler, smarter and speedier route for car loan applications and purchases.
We designed our digital home loan solution to transform the home buying experience.
The seamless experience we created for our customers was recognised when we won the Best New Product Launch, Outstanding Customer Service Transformation and Outstanding Client Onboard and Account Opening (Highly Acclaimed) awards at The Digital Banker’s Global Retail Banking Innovation Awards 2018.
Recognising that more people were turning to online tools and solutions in search of their dream home, we also transformed the home buying experience for our customers in Singapore. During the year, we established the largest property ecosystem, comprising the four top property agencies – ERA Realty, Huttons Asia, OrangeTee & Tie and PropNex Realty – as well as property technology company, SoReal Prop. With our partners, we launched our digital home loan solution, including Singapore’s first bank-backed property valuation tool, a banker and buyer matching service and an online instant home loan approval service to help home buyers find and fund their preferred property more efficiently.
The digital property valuation tool is a service available on our website or through our partners’ mobile apps. It offers customers an instant and reliable property valuation that will be used for their home loan application. Our banker and buyer matching service, GetBanker, enables property agents to connect prospective home buyers to the right banker quickly based on factors such as the type of property, property zoning cluster, price and the preferred language spoken by the customer. The agent is also able to rate the banker’s service thereafter and to add this banker as a favourite banker for future reference. Fully integrated with MyInfo and linked to real-time information from the Credit Bureau Singapore, our digital home loan solution enables customers to submit and to receive approval for their application within minutes.
With the opening up of the retail electricity market in Singapore in 2018, we made it more convenient for our customers to select the electricity plan most appropriate for them through our tie-up with the country’s widest network of electricity retailers. They include Diamond Electric, Geneco, iSwitch, Keppel Electric, Pacific Light, Sembcorp, Senoko Energy and Sunseap.
Our one-stop online portal hosts a recommendation tool to help customers determine an electricity plan that best suits their needs, including the estimated savings they may receive from our partner’s services.
For avid travellers, The Travel Insider, the first online travel portal by a bank in Southeast Asia, was designed as an end-to-end solution for our customers to search, to choose, to plan and to book their holidays easily. In collaboration with UOB Travel Planners and leading companies from the airline, hospitality and travel industries, we offer insider travel tips, proposed itineraries and competitive hotel, flight and tour deals. We tap the application programming interfaces of our partners – Agoda and Expedia – to draw the best options from more than a million hotel and flight possibilities. Travellers can also create and save their own itinerary, share it with their travel companions who in turn can give comments and suggest their own preferences for the holiday.
Enhancing Our Products to Help Our Customers Save and Spend Wisely
In 2018 we enhanced our suite of deposit and card products to help our customers extract greater value from their savings.
For example, we refreshed our flagship UOB One Account in Singapore to provide customers with enhanced yield of up to 3.88 per cent per annum on their savings when they spend and transact through the account. We also offer the UOB One Account in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand to enable our customers to earn more on their deposits when they transact through this account.
Another popular saving account in Singapore, the UOB Stash Account, gives customers bonus interest when they maintain or increase their monthly average savings balance. The product received the Best Savings Plan Offering award at the Retail Banker International Asia Trailblazer Awards 2018.
With travel being a consistent favourite among our customers’ activities, the KrisFlyer UOB Debit Card and Account was designed to reward customers with frequent flyer miles for their savings and spending. With this account, customers can earn miles on their deposits and debit card expenses, and make payments in or convert to major foreign currencies conveniently at their preferred rates. The KrisFlyer UOB Debit Card and Account, which was launched in 2017, was named Best Debit Card Product for Asia Pacific at the Cards & Electronic Payments International Asia Awards 2018 and Best Payment Innovation at The Digital Banker’s Global Retail Banking Innovation Summit & Awards 2018.
As travel is also a priority for many of our affluent customers in the region, we launched the UOB Visa Infinite Metal Card in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, offering exclusive travel, dining and birthday privileges.
In Indonesia, we launched the UOB YOLO card in 2018 to meet the lifestyle demands of millennials by helping them stretch their dollar with privileges such as zero interest on instalment plans for travel spend and daily deals on dining, online shopping and movie tickets. Used by more than 150,000 customers across Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, the UOB YOLO card features Southeast Asia’s first ‘quick read’ design, making it easier for our customers to read the card number when conducting online transactions.
In Thailand, our collaboration with CenPay, Central Group Thailand’s bill payment service provider, enables our customers to make their UOB credit card and CashPlus bill payments at any CenPay-enabled cashier location at more than 1,800 retail outlets across the country.
Through our collaboration with CenPay, our customers in Thailand can now make bill payments at any CenPay-enabled casher location across the country.
Enabling Our Customers to Achieve Their Financial Goals the Way They Prefer
Just as we are committed to offering products and services that are relevant to our customers, we are also focused on engaging them in their preferred manner. Recognising that our customers are increasingly using digital or self-service channels for their banking needs and turning to the branch for financial advisory, we designed new branch models with reconfigured layouts to create better banking experiences.
We launched in Singapore a branch model for young professionals and young families at Tampines 1, a shopping mall next to a mass rapid transit station and with high foot traffic. The area was chosen as we expect more young professionals and young families to set up home there. We considered the preferences of this customer segment for more personalised advisory services and removed traditional teller counters to create more space for our customers to hold private conversations about their financial aspirations. The branch also has a QR code wall where customers can use their smartphones to scan a QR code that directs them to information that interests them, as well as five self-service banking machines that are accessible at any time of the day.
Our branch at Tampines 1 in Singapore focuses on meeting the financial needs of young professionals and young families.
For our emerging affluent customers, our high street Wealth Banking branch model launched at Orchard Road, Singapore’s famous shopping belt, offers them a personalised banking experience through the use of AI and data analytics. Our customers simply need to scan their identification card at the self-help ticketing kiosk and within seconds they will receive information on relevant financial solutions that could be of interest to them, as well as an eQueue number on their mobile phone.
Our relationship managers are also equipped with a purpose-built digital investment advisory platform to provide deeper insights into building an investment portfolio to meet the customer’s wealth goals. Known as the UOB Portfolio Advisory Tools, this is the first such digital service offered specifically to emerging affluent consumers by a Singapore bank. The service is built upon our Risk-First wealth advisory approach to help our customers safeguard and build their assets, according to their risk tolerance and appetite, before they take on more risks through tactical investments.
We also launched a wealth management branch concept in Bangsar, one of the most affluent residential suburbs in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital. At this branch equipped with dedicated spaces for advisory conversations, our accredited wealth advisers will advise customers on growing their wealth through our Risk-First wealth advisory approach.
A similar wealth management branch concept, with wealth and privilege banking centres under one roof, was implemented when we relocated our branch in Kuching, Sarawak to iCom Square, which is situated in a vibrant commercial centre.
In Bangkok, Thailand, we also piloted three branch concepts at Central Festival EastVille, 101 The Third Place as well as ICONSIAM to meet the lifestyle preferences and financial needs of families, young professionals and entrepreneurs, as well as the affluent and business owners respectively.
As more affluent customers in China seek opportunities to diversify their investments, we offer them a range of competitive onshore investments as well as solutions that provide exposure to overseas securities through the Qualified Domestic Institutional Investor scheme. Our customers can gain access to global asset managers’ funds and structured products to capitalise on the price movements of underlying equities from different stock markets globally.
In ensuring that our client advisers and relationship managers are competent to provide quality and timely advice and recommendations, we are committed to training our people continually. For instance in 2018, the first cohort of the UOB-Asian Banking School Wealth Advisory Certification Programme graduated from Malaysia’s first wealth management programme focused on equipping bankers with wealth advisory skills. The programme was accredited by the Melbourne Business School, the graduate business school at the University of Melbourne.