2020 Winner: DBS – Data-driven services, marketing and advances win multiple categories – Retail Banker International Asia Trailblazer Awards


DBS Bank Singapore


DBS has been investing in new data-driven services, systems and campaigns to launch an up-to-date (i) Lifestyle App, while overhauling its (ii) POSB Everday credit card with extra rewards, and its multichannel offering that is now better integrated to improve customers lives and convenience.

Loyalty is now better recognised too via the (iii) SimplyGo project and other such initiatives. Improved artifical intelligence (AI) driven number crunching capabilities have helped to process the data deluge coming in and deliver useful targeting, contextual, and relevant services – not to mention the DBS Digitbot Virtual Assistant increasing self-serve. A new Best Core Banking Initiative (see end: iv) means its system can cope with all these demands, with Hong Kong leading the way here. 

For all of these reasons DBS won at the RBI: Asia Trailblazer Awards 2020 in the following seven highlighted categories:

  • Best App for Customer Experience (CX); • Best Loyalty / Rewards Strategy; • Best Multichannel Offering; and • Excellence in Omnichannel Integration. Culminatively, its efforts – and separate win in the • Best Digital Banking Initiative – were enough to also see it win the Best Retail Bank: Singapore trophy for all its data-driven overhauls and enhanced, contextual services, which are now delivered at the fingertips of consumers.

(i) Lifestyle App: The new DBS Lifestyle App was designed for the mobile smartphone and with intensive data analytics studies to ensure that it:

  • Helps CX and aids retail bank account holders and consumers to manage their lifestyles better by allowing easy access to information 24x7. For example, customers can monitor expenses via a breakdown of their spending, track their credit card due date and so on, all in ‘one app to rule them all’.
  • Keep customers are updated with the best relevant deals and promotions that suit their lifestyle via data-driven personalisation and contextual offers that aid cross-selling, acquisition, etc.
  • Fulfil customers’ banking needs instantly on the move with secure services, card access and so on, all at a low cost by making easy self-serve a feature.
  • Give customers the rewards they desire by enabling them to offset their recent purchases at any merchant with DBS reward points or POSB Daily$ loyalty acknowledgements.

The desired personalisation is achieved by a:

  • Personalised offer: based on the next best recommendation model.
  • Personalised goal: transparency and clearly defined goals based on customers' data and past engagements enhance spend, targeting and stickiness. For example, a low spender gets a low, achieveable reward goal, which equates to an offer that says ‘spend S$100 online on your card and get a S$10 gift’. These can be redeemed via one of the numerous participating partners in the rewards scheme, spanning grocers to utilities and transport providers.
  • Personalised Tracking: eases engagement – there is a promotion tracker feature – and helps drive contextualisation.

The DBS Lifestyle App was launched with numerous associated banner ads and advertising targeting existing customers to upgrade and spend more, while encouraging newcomers to come join the convenient new platform, link their card and get rewards. A number of solutions have been added to the new App, such as:

  • Secure log-in to all services.
  • Personalised content and offers use advanced machine learning. For example, there is a ‘Deals for You’ page.
  • Gamification initiatives: to make the CX interactive and fun. For example, certain contextual coupons can only be redeemed in certain locations.
  • InstaRewards redemption: means accumulated DBS reward points or POSB Daily$ on the card can be used to offset any recent purchase, anytime, anywhere.

The Lifestyle App can also be accessed via DBS’ website to enable less mobile, tech savvy customers to still access many of the deals, offers and services. A mobile first approach is evident but multichannel functionality and omnichannel integration is emphasized. For example, the Zalora online fashion retailer app is one of many that are linked to the DBS Rewards Redemption ecosystem programme, allowing offsets and reductions if so wished.

DBS doubled its app downloads in 2019, following the launch, and acquired almost 300,000 unique new customers. Its maintained a healthy monthly active users (MAU) rate of 41% and in-app rating of 4.4 out of 5.

What separates DBS from the competition is the ability to build a network of redemption platforms via our ecosystem partnerships, and to integrate Rewards into Cardmembers’ lifestyles via multiple touchpoints and channels.

The separate DBS Digibank online, SMS bank, and virtual ATM with live chat offerings provide different channels to market, as does the Playlah personal mobile wallet, which has a million active users and a QR-powered ‘red packet’ function to virtually give money for the Chinese new year. The Lifestyle App complements many of these tools and channels, as there is necessarily overlap when trying to make a lifestyle banking service for everything.

The digiPortfolio tool, accessible via DBS Digibank online, is an additonal offer that provides a hassle-free investment portfolio platform for Asian or global Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) with a simple low fee structure of 0.75% per annum. This won DBS the Best Digital Banking Initiative at the RBI Asia Awards.

(ii) POSB Everday credit card wirth extra rewards;
The multifaceted overlapping data-driven nature of the projects from DBS also extended to an overhaul of its POSB Everday credit card, which can be digitally added to the above-mentioned Lifestyle App, and to which the contextualised rewards programme relates.

All of the bank’s initatives have:

  • reduced manual and paper processes;
  • improved productivity and cost-to-income ratios, as digitlisation is emphaszied;
  • lead to better results via increased spend, targeting and acquition;
  • & delivered more CX convenience and better outcomes for customers.

In regard to the POSB card overhaul the half a million strong customer base were treated to a new card face design and accelerated cash rebates campaign in 2019, which used data analytics to create a hyper-personalised offering. It also targeted newcomers.

The POSB Everyday credit and ATM card had always offered rewards at grocers, such as Sheng Siong (5%), and petrol stations (SPC, 6%). But tactical rebate campaigns on the relaunch offered a special 15% rebate on dinning out. This was then spread to utilities, linking into the unveiling of the Singaporean Open Electricity Market where competition and switching are encouraged in a more open data-rich environment. Electricity partners were encouraged to partner and provide a richer list of incentives and savings to benefit DBS’ customers. There are now DBS Marketplaces for the Car, Property and Travel sectors too. Transport was a key targeted sector where the special tactical 15% feature was additonally deployed (see SimplyGo project subhead below).

The results of the card and loyalty overhaul have brought success, as evidenced by:

  • Steady year-on-year (YOY) growth in retail sales of 5%.
  • A highly engaged and 70% active customer base, which is simultaneously growing.
  • Key spend segments, such as dining & transport, grew 12% and 44% YOY respectively.
  • Record-high performance for the POSB Everyday Card campaign collaterals, such as:
  • Digital display banners reached over 40 million impressions.
  • 30sec video films’ received 3 million impressions with high click-through rate of 42%.
  • Facebook posts achieved over 3 million impressions.

(iii) SimplyGo
As a large Singaporean bank, DBS was one of the key participants in the SimplyGo scheme unveiled by the city state’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) and TransitLink providers to introduce contactless payments on trains and buses. It is similar to the London, UK, migration from its old stored card Oyster scheme to using people’s existing bank cards or mobile wallets instead as a means to enable easy, seamless ticketing via ‘tap and go’ contactless in-built functionality.

The pilot scheme from 2017 came to fruition in 2019 with a full rollout nationwide in 2019. An initial MasterCard link-up was followed by Visa and then the NETS payment provider network to gain scale.

As a card issuer for MasterCard, DBS was one of the first large-scale movers and enriched its offering with the aforementioned tactical 15% cash back launch offer, which has since been contextualised and personalised at various different rates to reward particular types of commuters on a more granular data-driven level.

There are various other DBS incentives too, such as $120 for new card members, Free Ride Friyays (Fridays), and so on. Gamification and geo-location targeting are all part of the enriched DBS offering that spans other subsequent card schemes like Visa that joined the rollout later on. Out-of-home (OHH) targeted screen door advertising and so on is all part of the programme as well.

DBS Cards Taiwan get in on the scheme later on as the SimplyGo functionality isn’t restricted to one nation. It pops up elsewhere, sometimes under different white-label names. Interestingly, Singapore-issued MasterCards and mobile wallets during the pilot phase could be used at the Kaohsiung MRT station – an example of cross-border functionality.

A SimplyGo DBS Lifestyle App Promo was also on offer providing 30 free rides for S$30 spends and other such incentives were on offer in Singapore. The hoslistic multichannel data-rich, and contextualised, capabilities of DBS is what won it so many awards.

(iv) The Best Core Banking win emanates from DBS Hong Kong where a six-year digital journey required an overhaul of the core retail and commercial banking ledgers and services, covering current and savings accounts, time deposits, loans and so on, in order to cope with the new digital and data demands being placed on it.

The Hong Kong Core Banking Project (HKCB) safely integrated 100+ upstream and downstream systems, replacing an old solution from the turn of the millennium with a new Infosys Finacle (EdgeVerve) system that can support its technology expansion and digital transformation towards offering an ecosystem of services, some developed externally by fintechs, on a comprehensive platform. The HKCB project details are as follows:

  • Migrated over 34,000 accounts and integrated over 100 systems.
  • Invested over HK$100 million and achieved over HK$46m cost savings and operational efficiency improvements.
  • Achieved an additional HK$40m savings from successful decommission of HK mainframe.
  • Payments are now completed twice as fast (in 50% of the time), while the cash deposit/ withdrawal process time is faster by 40%.
  • Zero regulatory incidents or customer complaints since the March 2019 go-live.
  • Project was completed under budget and one month ahead of schedule.
  • Project completion contributed to a record net profit of HK$7.9 billion in 2018.
  • Resulted in 33% increase in the number of customers using our digital platforms.

The rest of the bank will benefit from the knowledge gained when HK overhauled its internal ledger and core system to cope with the modern world where a multitude of channels, end points and ecocystem-dependent services is the norm. DBS is ready for this world.

DBS was also highly commended for Trailblazing Use of AI in Financial Services and Excellence in Mobile Banking.


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!