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UOB launches eLab for upcoming Digital Bank; hiring 60 more for digital banking team

UNITED Overseas Bank (UOB) on Thursday launched a pan-regional Engagement Lab (eLab) to to personalise the way in which it converses and serves customers of its upcoming Digital Bank services.

In August, the bank announced plans to introduce a Digital Bank for Asean customers that will use a data-centric business model to understand individual customer banking needs and habits through their digital interactions with the bank. It is now launching the eLab, which UOB touts as the first such dedicated unit by a bank in South-east Asia, to use technology and behavioural insights drawn from the Digital Bank to design, test and trial ways to encourage customers to save and spend more wisely.

UOB plans to set up eLabs across its network of Asean countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, "to ensure that digital conversations are relevant, familiar and intuitive to customers, and conducted in the customers' native languages".

"Mobile-first" and tech-savvy customers, who will make up a large portion of the Digital Bank customers, will expect digital services to be instinctive and responsive, said Dennis Khoo, head of Digital Bank and Digital Banking at UOB.

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Aside from designing a simple and intuitive app interface, the bank will strive to anticipate customers' needs and prompt them to make better financial decisions through meaningful real-time digital conversations.

"Within our local eLab teams, our people will be testing and learning how best to converse with customers," Mr Khoo said. "We are building a glossary specific to each market, which takes into consideration cultural, behavioural and language norms. With language being used differently by each generation, and especially on digital devices, this is an exciting challenge to tackle."

UOB has launched a talent search to increase its 120-strong Digital Bank team by 50 per cent in the next 12 months. Of these new hires, a quarter will join the eLab, while others will work in user experience and user interface design, behavioural science and research, data analytics and design thinking.

About 45 per cent of the roles will be located in Singapore, with others available in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.