2022 Winner – UOB Best retail bank in Singapore with excellent internet & retirement offer – Retail Banker International Asia Trailblazer Awards



United Overseas Bank (UOB) Singapore won the Best Retail Bank: Singapore and Excellence in Internet Banking categories at the RBI APAC Awards 2022 for its growth and digital offerings. They also received a number of commendations and the Best Retirement Product and Service Initiative for their Capital Builder solution aimed at millennials.

Capital Builder is designed to meet a conflicting need among millennials to invest earlier in their lives to benefit from long-term compound effects while facing budget constraints. This has traditionally meant retirement planning has suffered among youngsters. UOB Singapore wants to solve this by giving digital access to expertise from renowned international money managers, which is usually reserved for institutional investors, to those willing to commit a $1,000 starting fee and $100 regular savings plan into Capital Builder best-of-breed funds selected by an asset partner.

By explaining the importance of capital growth in a low-yield environment and calculating the projected returns to investors of a regular savings plan over 20 years, the bank gives customers a visual representation of the compounding effects of long-term investing and is therefore gaining adherents.

The strategy has risks in that capital building requires growth and riskier initial investments, and this made the recent Covid-19 downturn challenging, but by focusing on the long-term and sustainable future growth areas as well, the Capital Builder solution still managed to deliver a return of 9.85% in 2021.

The number of millennials investing with UOB has gone up by a factor of three, showing its success. The product is complementary to an Income Builder solution that offers investors a way to generate a passive, less risky income stream for their retirement as their age advances.

Best retail & internet bank

UOB Singapore won the Best Retail Bank and the Excellence in Internet Banking categories at the RBI APAC Awards 2022 for their strong financial results and integration plus on-boarding work following the acquisition of Citi’s consumer banking business in four ASEAN markets. This deal added 2.4 million customers and grew its wealth management (WM) offering and value chain proposition throughout the bank.

The UOB Mighty mobile app and innovations from the TMWR digital bank imprint were also merged to create a new improved platform for the 51% of digitally engaged

customers that now make up the majority of UOB Singapore’s overall client base. A third of them are still omnichannel customers who occasionally use branches, so investments are still going in there to ensure access and education. But the focus is on unified digital back- end processing and delivering the front-end service as required. These omnichannel customers deliver three times more revenue than purely digital ones, so cannot be ignored in the dash for digital banking.

The rebranded and refreshed UOB TMWR mobile app now comes with data-driven automated UOB Insights – not Mighty branded insights anymore – and other tips about how to save, earn rewards, set up alerts, activate WM accounts and so on. The unified mobile banking app increases cross-selling and engagement activities internally.

The TMWR mobile app was also leveraged last year as a launch pad for a number of specific initiatives,

including the SimpleInsure and SimpleInvest drives. The latter attracted 10,000 unique customers, 90% of whom were new to unit trusts. Their low-scale investments

will hopefully be the start of their journey up the bank’s WM value chain from plain retail banking accounts up to more savings and investment-focused activities. Also unveiled last year was:

  • PayNow-PromptPay: connecting Singapore and Thailand’s national fast payment systems, this instant fund transfer solution uses recipient’s mobile phone numbers. The backbone has caused transaction volumes and value at UOB to rise steeply after access was made possible on the TMWR mobile app.
  • UOB Rewards+: Unveiled in partnership with Fave, this initiative is now the biggest rewards program in Singapore with more than 1,000 deals, cashback, and reward options across 20,000 locations worldwide. A Rewards+ digital wallet available on the app allows users to view and track all the options at a glance. Average merchant coupon issuance jumped up 12 times to an average of 2,400 a day after the program’s launch.

Two new card offerings have also driven volumes and value at the retail bank:

  • The UOB Absolute Cashback credit card gives 1.7% back with no minimum spend or exclusions for high- tariff items like school fees, rent, or suchlike.
  • The UOB Evol card is Southeast Asia’s first bio- sourced card with a suite of sustainable privileges. Additionally, it offers greater savings of 2.5% per annum in interest applied when it is linked to a UOB One Account. This encourages new card joiners to delve deeper into the bank’s other offerings.

Sustainable lifestyles and trends are a future growth area for UOB Singapore. It is actively targeting the ‘green’ agenda with a suite of UOB Sustainable Future branded products in the (Green) Home Loan, Car Loan, Investment and Payment arenas. A range of renewable energy certificates (RECs) are available for green homes and electric vehicles (EV), for example, and ESG aware (environmental, social and governance agenda) items are now a core part of its advisory and investment approach.

Partnerships are crucial to future growth as well, particularly in the open application programming interface (API) era where fintech-driven collaborations can be more easily formed – and requests for data calls cannot necessarily be easily avoided.

The data-driven approach to development initiatives and to the sharing of customer data to deliver a seamless experience on a single app is creating a need for ecosystems. These involve partnerships where a bank doesn’t necessarily have its own offering – in say insurance. The trend also requires the platfomization of customer interactions, so that users remain on your app or linked to it – rather than being attracted elsewhere.

UOB is aware and actively engaged in the digital collaboration trend with partnerships unveiled with Shopee; EV dealerships; electronic e-merchants delivering groceries, take-outs, etc; property agents; and so on. JP Morgan is a partner for research and data help for WM relationship managers (RMs) as well, assisting them in delivering timely and relevant market- based advice. Technology and operationally speaking, the bank is also ensuring that all its future app developments are flexible and hostable on a flexible modernized core.

The upshot of all UOB Singapore’s efforts has been strong balance sheet growth with a 7% uplift in CASA openings (Current Account Saving Account); deposit balances growing 7% in WM; and an increase in new cards issued and 20% uplift in billings year-on- year (YoY).

In the mortgage area, sales went up 28% with an 18% uplift in revenue – not doubt helped by the Green Home Loans drive helping the bank to grab a 40% market share in the buildings under construction segment. For all these reasons UOB Singapore was a worthy winner at the 2022 Awards.

UOB Singapore was also HC: Highly Commended at the Retail Banker International (RBI): Asia-Pacific (APAC) Awards 2022 in the following categories: Best Advance in Loyalty/Rewards Program; Best Advance in Payments; Best Credit Card Initiative; Best Savings Plan Offering and Best Strategic Partnership.