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UOB claims new take on digital banking

Singapore bank announces new digital banking offering; Claims it will be the first to truly engage – but is it?

Singapore’s UOB used its first half results briefing today to unveil a new digital bank to be rolled out across five Asean markets and aiming for up to 5 million new customers. It is big on ambition, but light on timeframe specifics.

“We believe this is the right time for us to launch a digital bank,” says Dennis Khoo, head of regional digital bank and digital banking. “The difference is, this will be digital banking with a relentless focus on customer engagement.”

Khoo’s odd job title is illustrative of the strange definitions and terminology that are turning up in this sector. In his view, digital banking is something UOB has been offering for some time anyway (most obviously through its UOB Mighty, a phone-based payments system widespread in Singapore), whereas this new project is a new mobile-only digital bank, targeted in its initial stages at mobile-savvy Generation Y and Z customers.

There’s little doubt that the digital bank, once rolled out fully, will be differentiated in terms of footprint: UOB wants it to be active in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. The most obvious comparison, fellow Singaporean and long-time tech leader DBS, has rolled out its mobile-only digibank offering in India and Indonesia, but not elsewhere in southeast Asia.

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