Evolving from a UNI.CORN: Ravin Singh, Digital and Emerging Payments, DBS

24 May 2018   

Photo: Shutterstock

Ravin was one of the pioneers from DBS’ UNI.CORN internship programme. We find out how life has changed for him since the internship and more about what he does in the bank today

How’s life changed for you since your UNI.CORN days?

I joined DBS full time after the internship. I became one of the first few members of DBS’ Digital and Emerging Payments team because of the UNI.CORN project that I had worked on.

We developed FasTrack, a service that those who are always on the move will appreciate. It is a payments system that is tagged directly to an F&B company’s app. Customers can make their orders remotely, head down to the nearest outlet and simply pick up their food. There’s no need to wait in line, no need to fumble with cash or even worry about whether there’s any in the wallet.

Beyond FasTrack, we are now looking at other evolving modes of digital payments that cut across various channels – web-based systems, e-commerce, chatbots and mobile channels. It has only been a year since I joined the team but I am discovering new things every day because of the rapid changes in digital channels and technology.

What’s a day like in your role?

The very first thing I do is order a cup of coffee on my way to work using the service we developed. I want to make sure that our service is in tip top condition.

But seriously, what we are doing is to make it as seamless as possible to get orders from the merchant’s point-of-sale systems to the kitchen that prepares the food. Customers just need to show up at the shop, pick up their items and get on with their day.

I meet with the F&B merchants frequently to explore new ways to help them improve their interaction with customers, especially in the payments process. That usually involves walking in the shoes of both the merchants and customers to understand a typical user journey. I study the processes, analyse workflows and from there, recommend actions and channels that might be appropriate for these merchants. I also identify new and innovative tech vendors and solutions based on customer needs.

How did the UNI.CORN internship prepare you for your role?

The UNI.CORN internship was really something else. We were given lots of independence to work on many ideas and create working prototypes. Joining the Digital and Emerging Payments team was a natural progression from UNI.CORN.

We were taught from the first day to be as disruptive as possible, challenge status quos, think out of the box and work as fluidly as possible. The driving principle we had was – there are multiple possibilities and we must believe that anything can be achieved.

I believe in research, research and more research. I cannot emphasise how important this is because we need to understand various points of view to develop insights and new solutions. From there, it is a matter of testing what works because you will not get it right the first time. I apply the same approach every day by helping customers consider other solutions.

What’s been one of the key highlights since joining DBS?

As a digital bank, we are constantly exploring how we can take customers on that journey with us. We want to help them get adjusted to new technologies and new ways of working.

FiveStar Restaurant, one of the most popular chain of chicken rice outlets in Singapore, joined the FasTrack programme in 2016. Previously, their staff were used to taking orders from their customers over the phone. Many of their older staff were unfamiliar with the new modes of cashless payments. We simplified a lot of the process for them and helped them learn how to make use of the new service. That massively changed their world.

Watch his video to see how the F&B provider benefitted from the service 01:32

What do you miss most about your UNI.CORN days?

The biggest thing I miss is the people. As the first batch of UNI.CORNs, we were very much finding our way and discovering the limits of what could be done. We were given lots of freedom and it helped that we had so many varying personalities. Many of my fellow UNI.CORNs have gone on to do some amazing things across the start-up world, as well as in other innovative companies such as Razer and Singtel.

I am also deeply thankful for the mentorship. It is great that the bank invested time in helping us to develop the right skillsets and attitudes. We learnt so much from being exposed to start-up communities. We also met senior banking leaders who were always forthcoming in sharing their insights and experiences. These provided invaluable lessons when we were working on our own projects.

What advice would you have for the latest batch of UNI.CORNs?

Enjoy the experience. It is not like any other internship out there. You will be given lots of opportunities to disrupt whatever you want to disrupt. What you go through will go a long way in not just preparing you for a job, but for a lifelong career. You will learn to handle any situation, apply frameworks such as human-centred design thinking and solve any challenge that you start to face.

But above all, remember to have fun. It is refreshing, rewarding and you will be given a chance to grow.

Fresh from the 2018 UNI.CORNs

“Expect the unexpected. It’s great to adopt a fresh mindset and learn new things from mentors at the bank and from other organisations such as Twitter.”

- Lee Jia Yi, 22

UNI.CORN is not your usual boring internship. It’s like a big boy’s concept. We get to work on projects, manage our own time and have the flexibility to think out of the box. It’s a unique internship to be a part of.”

- Jason Tan, 29

“The experience is very exciting. We were trained on our first day to keep our minds open and explore the possibilities out there. The world is like an open field and there’s never an end to how much we can discover.”

- Malcolm Han, 25

DBS UNI.CORN is a 12-week internship programme that grooms the next generation of digital bankers for the bank. Third-year Bachelor’s and Master’s degree students are assigned business and innovation mentors, and given access to interact directly with the senior management. The programme challenges UNI.CORNs to solve real consumer problems and develop prototypes to address specific business problems.