DBS is a leading financial services group in Asia, with over 280 branches and 23,000 employees across 18 markets. It is headquartered in Singapore, with a growing presence in Greater China, Southeast Asia and South Asia. DBS Bank was named the World’s Best Digital Bank by Euromoney in 2016.
DBS had started on its digitalization journey a few years ago by adopting a strategy to enable growth and expansion, and investing more in its technology infrastructure. In doing so, the bank needed to embrace technology, reimagine the customer journey, and transform the company culture. The next few sections will elaborate on some of the technology initiatives of DBS Bank in their journey to become the World’s Best Digital Bank.
DBS Bank: Emerging Markets and Overseas Countries (EMOC) Core Migration
Back in 2009, DBS Bank looked to expand its presence in overseas markets, specifically the Asian region. To do this, DBS Bank needed a core migration.
As it was, DBS Bank’s Emerging Markets and Overseas Countries (EMOC) were running numerous different legacy systems. The loose connection of fragmented systems hampered the bank’s abilities to optimize its overseas entities, limiting expansion into those markets. To support its vision, DBS launched the EMOC Core Banking program. The operation was a regional, phased rollout of the Infosys Finacle platform to 13 locations over a period of 20 months. Deployment was a model of efficiency, going live in almost a branch a month at its height. From cost savings, to reducing human resources, the benefits were far reaching. DBS Bank exemplified how a core transformation does not have to be a painful process, but one that can be fairly quick and efficient, even on a global scale.
Transforming legacy systems and driving digital transformation
With 34 branches and over 4,000 employees, DBS Hong Kong provides a full range of services in consumer, SME and corporate banking solutions. DBS Hong Kong believed in making banking easier and more intuitive for customers. As one of the most progressive banks in the country, DBS was looking to grow its digital banking initiatives. Its legacy systems were hampering this growth, and were limiting the bank’s ability to launch new services and solutions. Meanwhile, customers were becoming increasingly digitally savvy, and expected their bank to keep up.
DBS Bank needed a flexible, scalable and resilient core banking platform that would help deliver simple, convenient, and secure banking for its customers. It also needed robust internet and mobile banking platforms to align to its overall digital journey.
As such, DBS chose the Finacle core banking platform, and embarked on a major transformation project to scale up the overall core banking system along with redefining the internet and mobile banking platforms. The entire project, from testing, implementation and migration, was completed in 24 months.
Key business drivers
There was a need for the bank to decommission its legacy core system, to contain recurring high maintenance costs, and transform its core platform to an open and scalable system that could support the latest protocols and technologies.
It wanted to enable its business teams to roll out new banking services and initiatives as well as shorten time to market for products. DBS Hong Kong was looking to align the application landscape and processes with regional standards, and provide a stable, digital-bank-ready foundation for future growth. Some of its key challenges include:
The Bank needed a core banking solution that could transform its business.
The project involved implementing the Finacle core banking platform, along with redefining internet and mobile banking. The Finacle team partnered with DBS to define the key objectives and outline the expected outcomes of the project. The team used process improvement events and Lean methodologies to focus on customer experience for system design.
Design thinking principles were introduced, and user interface (UI) prototyping was planned to collect feedback on design and navigation of the new teller screens and workflow from the branch’s operation users. The team effectively leveraged the experience of the centralized applications and infrastructure, and reused the existing interfaces being in other DBS Finacle locations.
The Finacle team divided the implementation into phases and worked with the Bank to complete each of them. The phases included preparation, design workshops, post workshop design sign-off, build delivery execution, testing and implementation support, and performance testing and migration.
In the first phase, the team created a foundation layer for the customer master. In the second phase, DBS Hong Kong went live on Finacle with multiple product lines including CASA and term deposits.
Despite multiple challenges, the team completed implementation within the desired timelines.
Heavy integration was required with 109 upstream and downstream systems with a variety of integration protocol. The team developed generic APIs to cater to the requests coming from multiple systems. Multiple hops were avoided for frequently used static data by building cache in middleware with online notification from Finacle. To minimise overall batch window, new Java based batch utility ExecSP was developed for heavy data extraction. Switch-based multi-entity handling ensured ease in specific functions and enablement of features as per business requirements.
Product enhancements were identified at multiple stages and delivered within short timelines. This included support for autopay and clearing requirements, authorisation matrix for non-amount based exceptions and workflows, and enhanced credit limit lines features to support complex business requirements.
This was also a high-risk implementation involving critical systems including ATM, internet banking and mobile banking. The cutover was de-risked with a staggered implementation approach. A pilot cutover with technical source deployment and configuration was rolled out in production a month before the actual cutover. This helped narrow the overall implementation window and minimised system downtime during actual migration. A mini version of the migration was carried out to verify the migrated data with some internal accounts to ensure data integrity and upfront verification of key data set.
The team applied a design thinking approach to reduce extraction time to more than 100% by writing an advanced Java-based extraction utility. This is being re-used in other DBS branches as well.
This was by far the biggest core transformation program for DBS in one of its key markets. The implementation program won the ‘Core Banking System Initiative of the Year – Hong Kong’ in The Asian Banking and Finance Awards 2017.
Meeting the demands of a digital oriented generation of customers was a primary objective of the core transformation at DBS Bank Hong Kong. With Finacle, the bank can now design processes and products that will deliver personalized and contextual experiences for its customers. The core solution delivers comprehensive, unified, real-time, and contextual insights on customer relationships across multiple channels.
The Finacle platform offers a range of flexible capabilities that enables the bank to launch products and services in a shorter timeframe. The time to launch new products has been reduced. This gives the bank greater agility for continuous innovation and accelerated growth.
Finacle offers DBS Bank extensive automation and straight through processing opportunities that leverages business rules, user-driven parameterisation, and APIs. The bank now has a robust infrastructure with high availability technology stack to ensure increased availability and support for aggressive digital/channel expansion.
Some of the operations have seen a reduction in processing time. Some examples include:
Overall, DBS Bank Hong Kong operations now have a flexible, scalable and resilient core banking platform with Finacle helping to deliver simple, convenient, and secure on-the-go banking for customers.
Digibank by DBS
A few years back, DBS wanted to create a mobile-only bank with all the major banking functionalities to expand its presence in selected markets. To start, digibank was launched in India and Indonesia. Digibank is India’s first mobile-only bank that is completely paperless and branchless. This appeals to the mobile-oriented generation and tap into the ongoing technological and digital revolution in the country.
With digibank, DBS wanted to offer customers a simple, convenient and secure way to bank while on-the-go, while eliminating the tedious manual processes required for opening an account. To do so, DBS bank needed a flexible, scalable and resilient platform that would enable them to launch new features and offer diverse functions. The bank chose Finacle core banking solution as the platform of choice for digibank in both the countries.
In Indonesia, DBS leveraged digibank to provide customers a mobile platform to check their profile, account details and conduct financial transactions, in the absence of the internet banking channel.
Using the incremental development principle of Agile delivery, DBS and Infosys Finacle team were able to break down the project’s overall delivery requirements into sets of work items that would be completed in sprint cycles. As part of the requirements gathering phase, the team conducted design workshops.
Design thinking principles were used during the requirement gathering and design stage. In Indonesia, the UI prototyping was planned to take upfront feedback on design and navigation for the new teller screens and the workflow of branch operation users.
The bank incorporated the virtual assistant from Kasisto to assist customers with their enquiries pertaining to their account and features available. Digibank also offers personal finance management powered by MoneyThor, which helps users with budgeting and financial planning. With Finacle, digibank has a robust integration platform that hosts all the digital banking capabilities by interfacing with multiple service providers in both online and batch mode 24/7 through a variety of integration protocols. Finacle core banking solution interacts with multiple interfacing systems to help DBS deliver a world class banking experience to the customers.
In India, the implementation was completed in a year and launched in April 2016. In Indonesia, the public launch took place in August 2017.
In India, Digibank has gained over 1.8 million customers within 18 months of launch.
The prospect customer creation in Finacle core banking solution was designed to maintain continuity. So, when the customer logs in again, his journey will continue from the point where he had last dropped off.
Creation of a customer ID and opening an account through the mobile app is now done with minimum data being collected from the customer.
The bank has taken precautions about security and authentication. A savings account is created in Finacle core banking solution only once the customer completes his / her personal ID verification and biometric validation.
Finacle handles the extraction of data and provides functional logic to the other systems for analytics and 24/7 dashboard monitoring. DBS wanted to provide real-time notifications to the customer for all transactions, financial and non-financial, and on both customer profile or account. This involved the use of topics and publish- subscribe logic to send notifications to multiple systems. The notification framework designed for digibank is now being used in other DBS projects.
Digibank has made an impact in these countries. To increase its presence in India and Indonesia, digibank has been one of the great outcomes of DBS’ strategy to grow and expand its reach through digitalisation.
DBS – Getting Ready to Conquer Asia’s Wealth
DBS knew that a modern, robust IT backbone was essential for achieving its goal. To this end, the Bank assessed its infrastructure requirements in its key markets, starting with Taiwan, China, Indonesia and India, and decided to migrate to Finacle’s wealth management solution platform. The bank initially evaluated and implemented the mutual funds and structured products modules of Finacle wealth management solution. Having seen significant benefits, the bank’s improved confidence in the solution led to implementation of other modules such as insurance, margin finance and IPOs. The bank is also evaluating equity and financial planning modules for future roll-outs.
Infosys proposed to implement the required modules from the Finacle solutions suite.
The modules were implemented in quick succession in the four target emerging markets, and subsequently rolled out in the home markets of Singapore and Hong Kong. There were many innovative elements including new front-end screens for the applications, a special dashboard for Singapore users, an advanced branch verifier module and several new business and operational functionalities. For the first time ever, device integration was done using thin-client architecture with a Puma server.
Naturally, an implementation of this scale and geographic footprint came with several challenges. In India, where the Bank was already running its operations on Finacle Core Banking Solution, the solution needed enhancements to align with Indian market practices. The go-live was one of the key achievements for the bank in India and paved way for the launch of the digibank.
In Hong Kong, where structured products were an important part of the business, the challenge was to integrate the Finacle solution with 109 upstream and downstream systems built using diverse protocols and technologies.
The project was done through agile methodologies and different units of the team formed the scrum cells with a common objective to deliver.
The implementation also sunset few of the legacy applications.
In the words of Siew Choo, Head of Core System Technology, DBS, “Thanks for the fantastic job, this is a big milestone in DBS’ technology transformation journey! Congratulations to Infosys Finacle for actively partnering with DBS in our transformation journey and thereby, taking our partnership to the next level.”
DBS has gained a lot from this pan-Asia implementation:
With Finacle’s wealth management solution, DBS Bank has the flexibility to tailor solutions and create new products for emerging customer segments. The bank can add innovative functionalities and features to their offerings without changing the source code of the application. In markets like Hong Kong and Indonesia, the faster time resulted in greater revenue.
The transformation program has enabled DBS to increase its wealth management customer base substantially and grow wallet share of customers. The Finacle solution also helps DBS Bank calculate fees and commission, and curb revenue leakage with stronger reconciliation mechanisms. Overall, DBS is seeing increased business growth in this segment.
The Finacle wealth management solution enables DBS Bank to derive rich integrated insights about its high-net-worth client’s investment portfolio. Sophisticated analytics, relevant financial planning, and asset allocation tools can be configured to leverage the opportunities presented by this customer segment to explore prospects for right-selling and fee-based personalized advice.
With its multi-currency and local regulation support, Finacle’s wealth management solution allows for smooth and easy migration to new markets. DBS Bank has reduced the processing time of dual currency deposits by 90%.
Finacle wealth management solution provides DBS Bank with a flexible solution to manage multiple products and effectively process investment products across diverse asset classes including structured products, mutual funds, insurance, margin and IPO.
Being a stable and scalable platform, DBS Bank is now able to provide greater convenience to its high-net-worth customers, with 24/7 account access availability over channels.