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UOB to launch digital bank in Asean

SINGAPORE banks are ramping up their digital offerings for the mobile-savvy customers in Asia, with UOB on Friday announcing a digital banking strategy for five markets in Asean - Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. 

UOB aims to have three to five million customers in the next five years with this digital bank. This will be operated at a "steady-state" cost-to-income ratio of 35 per cent. UOB said it would use a "unique data-centric business model", that taps the entire customer life cycle comprehensively. UOB will rely on its in-house digital technology development, as well as its collaboration with fintech partners such as its recent joint venture with credit assessment firm Avatec.ai, and its investment and partnership with data analytics firm Personetics.

In a media statement, Wee Ee Cheong, UOB’s chief executive officer, said: “The group’s digital bank is our latest initiative to deepen engagement with our customers, especially the mobile savvy. It will also help scale up our customer franchise across South-east Asia and positions us well for the future.”

This comes as DBS in April 2016 launched digibank India, India’s first mobile-only bank that is driven by technology from biometrics identification to artificial intelligence. A DBS spokesman said digibank India now is run by 60 to 70 people, with the virtual assistant handling some 80 per cent of customer interactions round the clock. The bank has since acquired more than two million customers in India.

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DBS followed up with digibank in Indonesia in August 2017. Today, some 250,000 customers in Indonesia are using digibank. 

"This year, DBS is extending the utility of the virtual assistant to new areas such as cross-selling through contextual conversations," the spokesman said.