DBS was honoured with numerous accolades, including Asia's Best Bank and Asia's Best Bank for Transaction Services, in Euromoney's Awards for Excellence 2020. We also took home the award for Excellence in Leadership in Asia, in recognition of our efforts to protect lives and livelihoods during the Covid-19 pandemic. Read on to see what Euromoney had to say about us in their awards citations. Citations published on 15 July 2020 and reproduced with permission from Euromoney.

Asia's Best Bank 2020: DBS

DBS is a bank at the top of its game. For the second year in a row, it not only wins the best bank in Asia award but canters away with it at high speed.

Every conversation about the Singapore lender starts and ends with its digital transformation journey, and for good reason. DBS describes it as “one of the most comprehensive for a bank anywhere in the world” – and it is hard to argue the point.

It was the first bank anywhere to clearly articulate how much it earned from digital and traditional customers, and each year it rolls out a host of new services that extend its reach in the digital realm.

Everything is built with disruption in mind, as well as with care and forethought. Rarely do these services overlap – there is never a sense that DBS is doing something for the sake of it.

Take last year’s launch of DBS DigiPortfolio, a hybrid human-robo investment service that allows retail customers with as little as S$1,000 ($720) to invest and to access analysis and advice provided by the bank’s best wealth management strategists.

In short, DBS is using its digital strength to democratize financial services.

Or take the multi-tier financing facility it unveiled last year in mainland China. Built on blockchain foundations, it gives small and medium-sized enterprises better and faster access to trade financing.

It’s an invaluable service for SMEs, who often struggle to have their trade finance needs met by traditional lenders.

There is a nice balance too in its digital platform. DBS doesn’t just throw up a new tool or service and hope for the best. Its self-service tool Wreckoon, which tests the resilience of applications in development and draws its inspiration from Netflix’s original chaos engineering concept, is testament to that.

But digital is also a means to an end. Fundamentally, it is used to make the bank work better and to help its clients, from retail customers to SMEs to corporates and sovereigns, live easier and better financial lives.

Beyond digital, there is so much to admire. Financially, it has never been healthier. The DBS group posted net profit of S$6.39 billion in 2019, up 14% year on year. Total income rose 10% to S$14.5 billion, with return on equity hitting a record high of 13.2%.

Net profit unsurprisingly dipped in the first quarter of 2020, as it set aside S$1.09 billion to cover potential pandemic-related losses, but some data continued to shine. Its cost-to-income ratio hit a record low of 38.6% at the end of March 2020, against 42.2% a year earlier.

Regional ambition

And there is a feeling that DBS is just getting started. When Euromoney met Piyush Gupta in February 2020, the topic of its regional ambition came up.

DBS’s chief executive highlighted six economies he deems essential to the bank’s future, noting: “We are putting our chips on China, Indonesia and India, three markets with 40% to 50% of combined global growth,” along with Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong.

This level of ambition extends to sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles. In November, DBS became the first bank in southeast Asia to sign up to the Equator Principles; during the full year 2019, it completed 35 sustainable financing deals, collectively worth S$5 billion.

And when the Covid crisis hit, Gupta tasked POSB, a division of the bank, to bring as many of Singapore’s financially excluded migrant workers into the banking sector as fast as possible.

In April alone 41,000 labourers signed up to open a POSB Jolly account, which allows account holders to remit money overseas and to top up pre-paid Sim cards via SMS.

 

Excellence in Leadership in Asia 2020: DBS

When Singapore suffered a second spike in coronavirus cases in April, attention turned to the city state’s migrant labourers, an army of essential workers described by a former head of the National University of Singapore’s Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health as society’s “most invisible” members.

Most of the new Covid cases were clustered around the workers’ cramped dormitories. Historically, although most workers used basic remittance services to transfer earnings home, many remained excluded from mainstream financial services.

Keen to find a solution, DBS, which provides financial services to more migrant workers than any local lender, set out to bring as many as possible into the financial fold.

“The challenge was clear,” says DBS chief executive Piyush Gupta. “There were 50,000 migrant workers, but most were paid in cash, didn’t have a bank account and were unable to pay for goods in a shop or remit money home during lockdown.”

Gupta tasked POSB, a consumer lender DBS bought in 1998, with the job.

“We wired POSB up to the manpower ministry and made the whole account opening process seamless and instantaneous,” he says.

In April alone more than 41,000 labourers signed up to open a POSB Jolly account, a simple setup that allows account holders to remit money overseas and to top up pre-paid Sim cards easily via SMS.

“Our aim is for all 750,000 migrant workers to have bank accounts by the end of the year,” Gupta adds.

This is only possible for a bank structurally and technologically at the top of its game – and DBS certainly fits that bill.

DBS has been busy across Asia during the pandemic, placing a six-month principal repayment moratorium on small and medium-sized enterprise property loans, introducing frictionless digital trade financing services and – through its Stronger Together Fund – distributing 4.5 million care packs across six key markets, including China, India and Indonesia.

 

Asia's Best Bank for Transaction Services 2020: DBS

DBS takes the award for Asia’s best bank for transaction services this year.

In 2019, revenues generated by the bank’s global transaction services (GTS) team, under the leadership of group head of global transaction services John Laurens, jumped 8% year on year, to S$2.6 billion ($1.9 billion), with income generated by the division up 12% year on year in 2019, against an Asia-Pacific average of just 4%, according to data from Crisil’s Coalition Index.

The Singapore lender clearly benefits from its formidable digital strength, as do its customers. By the end of March 2020, it had implemented 184 corporate and institutional banking application programming interfaces; corporate API call volumes rose more than 11-fold in 2019, to 7.4 million from 658,000 a year earlier.

DBS is ranked number one for PayNow receipts in Singapore, controlling more than 50% of the market: 48,000 individuals and companies signed up in 2019.

It was the first bank in the city state to implement cheque repricing, and in February 2020 the bank completed its first trade finance transaction on Singapore’s Networked Trade Platform, a $3.5 million letter of credit issued by two local corporates.

As you would expect from an institution that wins this year’s award for Asia’s best bank, DBS is also a regional powerhouse in transaction services. Its GTS division posted a 10% year-on-year increase in revenues in India in 2019, a figure that rises to 12% in Hong Kong and Indonesia, and 17% in Singapore.

And it continues to innovate, rolling out services that make life more frictionless and that blur the line between bank and customer.

DBS Rapid enables firms to integrate instant payments directly into their business processes, by piggybacking on local payments systems: Bersama in Indonesia, UPI in India, CUP in China and Hong Kong’s Faster Payment System.

DBS Max allows companies in India, Hong Kong and Singapore to settle and receive payments using QR technology, a programme also adopted by Singapore Airlines.

And last year, the bank teamed up with City Developments, a Singapore based property firm, to create an application that enables tenants to pay a range of bills – from rent to car-parking fees – more conveniently and efficiently.

 

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