With the opening of their brand new lifestyle space at the Plaza Singapura shopping mall, DBS Bank hopes to re-imagine banking for the younger tech-savvy generation of consumers, where digital banking is complemented by human connection.
An open layout and relaxed atmosphere
Designed with a cafe and branch concept, the new space consists of an open layout, creating a relaxed atmosphere. Customers are also welcomed by the aroma of freshly brewed coffee at the entrance of the bank, where Bettr Barista, a social enterprise supported by DBS Foundation, is located.
I had been recently invited to the launch event of the new DBS Lifestyle Space. When I first stepped into the brightly lit up and spacious DBS premises, complete with the coffee stall as well as chairs and tables to either eat or work at, this gave me the vibes that I had been stepping into a cafe to hang out with my friends, rather than into a bank to do my financial transactions.
It did take me aback at first, by how different the DBS Lifestyle Space was, compared to my standard impression of what a bank is. But I guess that it is something I can probably get used to, in years to come.
Nevertheless, I thought that the new DBS lifestyle space was quite impressive and interesting. It is an unusual yet innovative concept by DBS. And in fact, moving forward, I can indeed see it as a place where I may order a cup of coffee to hang out, in addition to doing my financial transactions – if I am in the area.
Launch kicked off with band and percussion performances
The launch event had kicked off with lively band and percussion performances to engage invited guests present; this was definitely the most ‘happening’ launch event that I have experienced at a bank – which I admit that I always used to think as a dreary place that I would typically experience long queues at, before finally being able to carry out my transactions.
This is because according to DBS, the new lifestyle space is designed with the tech generation in mind, and also offers them a highly digital experience to meet their banking and lifestyle needs.
The bank of the future is social
Explained Tan Su Shan, Managing Director & Group Head of Consumer Banking Group & Wealth Management at DBS Bank, “The bank of the future is social. At DBS we hope to be able to combine your social activities with banking. DBS loves all generations of Singaporeans and we are trying to get close to young Singaporeans. In fact, to get closer to millennials, we recently went to our first Ultra Music Festival and we are tying up with the ZoukOut and Laneway music events, too.”
She had been present at the launch event to give a short speech.
A tour of the new DBS premises
Invited members of the media and social media influencers had also been taken on a tour of the new DBS premises and first and foremost, I would say that the Plaza Singapura outlet is definitely quite different to what I would typically expect to find at a bank. For starters, it is much more high tech.
For instance, the Plaza Singapura outlet features an industry-first virtual reality corner for retirement planning, where customers can be guided on how to go about working towards their retirement lifestyles.
Here, customers would learn more about retirement through an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. I didn’t manage to experience the process for myself, but watching others go through it, it was quite eye opening to find out more about your daily expenditures and savings, by the choices that you make such as the type of house you choose to stay in or the holidays that you choose to go on. I feel that it is a great experience to find out more about saving for the retirement years and the virtual realty style of presentation is good for reaching out and educating to the tech-savvy millennials at the same time.
Customers can also perform both cash deposits and withdrawals at the Cash Service Machines, which also allow cash withdrawals above the ATM card limit. In fact DBS has deployed 90 of these machines in more than 30 locations across Singapore. And since the introduction of these machines, over the counter cash transactions have decreased by 48 per cent for retail customers and 22 per cent for corporate customers.
As well, DBS Bank customers also have access to round the clock banking services through the Video Teller Machines (VTMs), that offer non cash banking services like the issuing or replacement of internet banking tokens or debit cards.
I watched a customer replacing her lost card at one of the VTMs and this is indeed a seamless and simple process that only requires either one’s IC or passport and the answering of a few quick questions.
Customers who need help with the process, too, are able to access face to face assistance via live video. Pepper, the humanoid robot, is also on hand to guide customers on how to use the VTMs.
At the launch event, I also had a chance to take a look at Pepper and interact with him for a bit. That was quite an interesting experience. Customers would speak to Pepper using an iPad, so it is quite easy as well, to tell him what you want or need without any communication issues.
DBS hopes to allow customers to interact with each other
Additionally, DBS also aims to transform the lifestyle space into one that would allow customers to interact with each other based on their interests. Together with SCAPE, DBS is hosting a talent development showcase to groom singing talent, culminating in the first ever National Youth Music Awards competition in 2018. There are also plans to hold latte art competitions and coffee appreciation classes, as well as financial talks and art work exhibitions within the bank premises.
At this stage, I still find it a little hard to imagine attending singing classes or latte art competitions within a bank, but I expect this to become the norm in years to come.
Explained Jeremy Soo, Head of Consumer Banking Group (Singapore), DBS Bank, “Banking services have a clicks and mortar element, where digital banking and human connection complement each other. Over the last few years, we have expanded and further integrated our physical and digital channels to enable our customers to access our services seamlessly across multiple touch points. Customers choose the platform they are most comfortable with, be it face to face, digitally or a combination of both.”
Continued Jeremy, “We also believe that social networking in a physical space is equally important, and that us why we are transforming this lifestyle branch to allow customers to interact with one another based on their interests. By re-imagining banking, we want to change the impression of what branch banking is, for the tech generation. Hence, we are offering this new and relaxed environment, where banking is woven into our customers’ daily lives.”
As well, DBS launched the TwentyThirty scheme, an online initiative for young adults in their 20s and 30s, that proves quality content that is of relevance to everyday living. Topics covered include getting through adult milestones and financial literacy, as well as everything else that may be important for a balanced life.
With this initiative, DBS aims to engage young adults in conversations about larger life issues and embark on a continuous process of providing important information that addresses their jobs to be done.
The DBS Multiplier Account
Another initiative that DBS had also launched at the Plaza Singapura event too, had been the enhanced DBS Multiplier Account. This aims to cater to the financial aspirations of young adults in Singapore, making it easier for them to qualify for higher interest rates on their account balances by lowering the transaction threshold – with no minimum salary crediting amount and no minimum credit card spending.
This had also been the reason why the entire DBS premises had, quite literally, been overflowing with countless stuffed toy bunnies! I admit that when I had stepped inside the Plaza Singapura branch, I was wondering what the reason for all the bunnies had been for. It had seemed as though Santa Claus had left his loot of toys behind! There had been bunnies on the tables and chairs, as well as placed all over the walls, the bank counters, and on top of the ATM and VTM machines. Even the coffee stall was not spared.
Said Su Shan, “Do you know why there are so many rabbits here today? We hope that you will take a rabbit home and multiply. And we hope that you’ll grow your wealth as you start your financial interest journey with us, when you open your enhanced DBS Multiplier Account.”
Initially launched in 2014, the original DBS Multiplier Account had been to reward customers for consolidating their banking with DBS, with any combination of salary credit, credit card spending, insurance, investment or mortgage instalments.
Now with the enhanced DBS Multiplier Account, young adults only need to have their salaries credited with DBS or POSB and transact in one or more of the following categories: credit card spending, home loan instalment, insurance or investments
To enjoy higher rates, customers need to have their total eligible monthly transactions add up to S$2,000 or more in the following scenarios:
- Between 1.55% p.a and 2.08% p.a if their salary credit and transaction in one category adds up to at least S$2,000
- Between 1.8% p.a and 3.5% p.a if their salary credit and transactions in two or more categories adds up to at least $S2,000.
So by lowering the minimum threshold for total eligible transactions from S$7,500 to S$2,000, the enhanced DBS Multiplier account allows more young adults to qualify for higher interest rates beginning from the time that they enter the workforce.
Explained Jeremy, “With the enhanced DBS Multiplier Account, more young adults will be able to benefit from the higher interest rates as they take up relevant financial services based on their changing needs. We understand their flexibility in how they manage their finances. We also want to be there for them at an early life stage and help them achieve their financial and life goals.”