2020 Winner: Excellence in Customer Centricity & Best Loan awarded to United Overseas Bank – Retail Banker International Asia Trailblazer Awards
United Overseas Bank


UOB won in the Customer-Centricity category for the combined efforts of five different teams across its Singaporean and Thai offices implementing a number of different successful projects that collectively proved their Excellence in Customer-Centricity, increasing engagement, touchpoints, sales and data. The Thai project was also recognised as the Best Loan Offering. The noteworthy projects were:

(i) A utility marketplace: designed for Singaporean consumers that offered easy data-rich comparisons, information about how to select an electricity, gas, water or TV / broadband supplier, and convenient user experience (UX) design via a new website www.uob.com.sg/utilities. Lots of promotions and rebates available to UOB cardholders have ensured:

  • An increase in cardholder sign-ups after the initial engagement.
  • A seven fold increase in monthly billings.
  • & a 150 times rise in card transactions in the utility sector, as it was specifically targeted.

Numerous utility providers have flocked to join the customer-centric marketplace, increasing its power.

(ii) A relaunch of UOB’s Lady Card: targeting women customers in Singapore, was undertaken after declining sign-ups began to hit the once pioneering 30-year old product. A joint customer insights survey with MasterCard provided lots of consumer data to drive a refreshed card design, brand campaign and new rewards programme. Seven different categories from beauty to dining, entertainment to family, fashion and travel were defined to offer specific rewards that can be changed each quarter.

The success of the project is proven by brand research commissioned by Kantar in 2019 that showed brand consideration and usage rose by 11% and 14% respectively among the key target group of 21-35 year-old females. Card applications rose by 200% in March last year as well, and have since continued upwards.

(iii) UOB launched a digital car financing product: in July 2019 with instant loan approval for qualifying applicants. Targeting the private hire (chauffeur) segment that has seen 45,000+ cars registered with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in Singapore since it launched a scheme to allow for private ownership, UOB has seen significant uptake helped by a partnership with the local Grab ride-hailing company. An approval rate of 92% and $300,000 in loans were initially made, with on-going success evident in what is a growing segment.

(iv) The wealth management unit of UOB launched a new advisory tool: in Singapore that instantly presents full transparency of clients’ mutual funds portfolios’, thereby helping the bank’s advisors perform instant face-to-face analysis, and offer sound, risk-optimal recommendations without having to rely on third party data providers.

Fund Explorer can be accessed on a mobile, tablet or computer. Its 1.0 iteration provides ACE functionality, offering the ability to Analyse, Compare & Extract data. This can cover historical price trends, exposures, price performance of different funds, risk / return metrics and the extraction of documents, such as factsheets or prospectuses. The 2.0 iteration increased the tool’s comparative power across two different portfolio of funds simultaneously. Its driven by four toggle widgets that specialise in performance analysis; exposure; risk and return analysis. Benefits include:

  • Enhanced usage, with 96% of advisors logging on and using it to better serve clients.
  • Improved customer experience (CX) as there is now a single source of truth for everything, speeding up consultations, accuracy, in-depth discussions and so forth.
  • Enhanced advisory expertise has led to improved sales conversion rates.

(v) a branch transformation project in Thailand: drove better customer targeting, engagement and loan uptake. This project also won as a standalone entry in the Best Loan Offering category.

UOB Thailand recognised that some customer segments still value branch bank experiences and wanted to make them more pleasurable, in-depth and interesting to enhance customer stickiness and service uptake, especially for loans.

The project targeted three key customers – the upper affluent; affluent and middle income areas, re-designing branch layouts and facilities to suit each segment and assigning different staff skillsets to each to deliver improved service and strategy. New smart branch technology, micro events and festivals have also been rolled out.

The overhaul has worked with loan growth increasing by 6% against a market average of 1.7% and net fee income rising by 14.9%. There have been many other additional benefits too, such as a 15.4% growth in deposits.

UOB also won in the Trailblazing Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) category for its Bond Explorer product. This is an automated digital advisory solution that uses AI to elevate its old non-digital offering from a mere single bond analysis ability reliant on external unlined tools and some ‘hand chiselling’ to a fully digital portfolio level comparison and analytical capability that is much deeper and useful to the bond relationship manager (RM) and, ultimately, the end client. For instance, it does away with the need for offline coupon cash flow or payment dates, tenure tracking and so on, which RMs typically calculated offline in Excel spreadsheets previously. Pain points are removed. Two bond portfolios can be examined simultaneously for performance and risk parameters, fixed income calculations and so on.

The new AI-driven Bond Explorer contains all the key functions and features that are tailored to to the way UOB advises with its risk-first approach, and also has up-to-date product lists that are automatically updated via application programming interface (API) integration with a leading market data provider. Bond Explorer contains many first-to-market features, such as:

  • Daily automated refreshes of market data & information.
  • Interactive price charts with full price histories since issuance.
  • General data covering issue and maturity dates, daily prices and so forth.
  • UOB-unique data points like product risk ratings, strategy classifications (core or tactical).
  • Yield and duration data covering yield-to-maturity, yield-to-call and so on.
  • Performance and risk analysis capabilities can look at current v proposed portfolios and assess the impacts of different currencies, durations, regions, tenures and so on. A relative value analysis, with scatter plot graph, is also available for yields, and another function offers interactive scenario analysis. This can be used to simulate interest rate and other benchmark movements.

There are three main benefits associated with the AI-driven Bond Explorer. The aforementioned removal of pain points and alignment with UOB’s ‘risk-first’ approach, combined with enhanced instant analytical powers, have improved RM advisors perceived professionalism and had a second benefit of improving CX. Finally, this means clients can now make more informed decisions based on enhanced trust and data-driven advice, which has led to the third benefit of increased client acquisition. Deploying AI has been a win-win for the bank and the client.

UOB were also winners in three other categories at the Retail Banker International (RBI): Asia Trailblazer Awards 2020: • Best Online Securities Platform Best Savings Plan Offering • Excellence in Service Innovation.


The Retail Banker International Asia Trailblazer Awards is an annual platform that celebrates the best in class retail banking institutions and individuals for their innovative service offering and commitment to customer excellence.

If you would like to share your incredible consumer finance journey, then register for the 13th Annual Retail Banker International Asia Trailblazer Awards 2022 and submit your entry!