2 Key Insights from DBS Group Holdings Ltd’s Chief Executive

DBS Group Holding Ltd (SGX: D05) is Singapore’s largest bank by total assets. Given its size and scope of business, there may be lessons we can learn from its management team.

Recently, DBS’s chief executive, Piyush Gupta, was featured in an interview series by bourse operator Singapore Exchange Limited  (SGX: S68) and there are indeed valuable insights we can pick up from the interview.

As a brief background, DBS is one of the three major banks based out of Singapore along with Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Limited (SGX: O39) and United Overseas Bank Ltd (SGX: U11). It is not just active in Singapore – DBS is actually a leading financial services group in Asia, with 280 branches across 18 markets.

Without further ado, here are two key excerpts from Gupta’s interview.

The only constant is change

“”I hate status quo,” says the 55-year-old who values the importance of having a sense of purpose. “You’ve got to have a sense of true worth – how or why you are doing something, and what is the impact on others,” says Mr Gupta who believes in constantly striving to change for the better.”

Gupta has been working on changing DBS’s culture to one of embracing innovation and customer journeys. Some of his efforts may have bore fruit.

Speaking of innovation, DBS has launched a mobile wallet app as well as a mobile banking app. In 2013, the bank’s mBanking mobile app handled 7.4 million transactions. At the moment, the bank has more than 1 million customers using the mBanking app.

Clear and present danger

“The advent of new providers like Alibaba, WeChat, Apple, Tencent and Google in every part of the business, whether it’s lending, payments or risk management, is the “clear and present danger” facing the banking industry, he says.

“If we don’t respond suitably by digitising our own offerings, by re-imagining the customer’s journey, and leveraging new technology to give them a differentiated experience, we are going to die.””

Gupta is also candid about the potential risks on the horizon that DBS has to face.

Chief of all could be the unbundling of banking services which he refers to as a “clear and present danger.” In essence, mobile-based competitors could unbundle the service package offered by banks and individually take on difference parts of what a bank does.

Transferring of funds could be done on Venmo, for instance, a company under Paypal Inc. Meanwhile, the mobile payments space is getting crowded with the likes of Apple Inc through Apple Pay and Alphabet Inc (the parent of search portal Google) through Android Pay.

As Gupta warns, if DBS does not respond effectively, it could well suffer.

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The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice. Motley Fool Singapore contributor Chin Hui Leong owns shares in Apple and Alphabet.