An Interview with Aditya Gupta


OCBC Bank’s Vice President and Head of E-Business for Singapore speaks to FST Media about how OCBC Bank are leveraging mobility to enhance customer engagement.

FST Media: How has OCBC Bank progressed on its digital transformation agenda and what are your key priorities in the next 12 to 18 months?

Gupta: At OCBC Bank, digital is about a fundamental transformation to the business. It is about creating offers, services and interactions for the digital consumer to bank with us seamlessly across all channels. Our digital transformation journey has been two-pronged, enabling digital customer journeys by providing superior value and experience, as well as equipping our frontline agents with digitised insights, interactions and processes. We look at five core pillars for this journey: simplicity, relevance, personalisation, mobility, and agility. 

We have already seen the results of our early investments in digitisation. Digital revenue contribution has grown exponentially, efficiency has improved significantly and we are consistently rated best-in-class in customer experience. 

Over the next 12 to 18 months, we have three overarching priorities to accelerate our digital transformation and build on our market leadership in this space. 

Firstly, we will continue to introduce new services on our digital platforms to respond to the evolving expectations of digital consumers. Some near to mid-term focus areas include emerging payments, wealth management, biometrics, data analytics and wearables. 

We are also looking at digital partnership opportunities to see how we can collaborate with the latest innovations in fintech to build a competitively advantaged ecosystem, as we expand regionally.

Finally, we are in the process of building a common digital infrastructure and platform across the region to deliver the scale, agility and cost efficiency we need for our next phase of growth.

FST Media: What is OCBC Bank’s innovation strategy with mobile and how are you leveraging mobility to enhance customer engagement?  

Gupta: Mobility is one of the core pillars of our digital transformation journey. We believe mobility is going to be big now and in the future, and that is why our focus is to make mobile the core sales, service, transaction and engagement platform for our digital consumers. We always use a ‘mobile first’ (and in some cases ‘mobile only’) approach and design our services and interactions with an eye on the shifting expectations of customers. The focus is on delivering frictionless, instant and contexual end-to-end experiences, rather than building a glamorous front-end with a clunky or broken back-end journey.

We have leveraged a whole suite of next generation mobile solutions to enhance customer engagement and agent productivity. 

For customers who prefer to self-serve, we have introduced mobile solutions across the entire relationship cycle – from opening accounts remotely on smartphones using the OCBC Bank Open Account app, to simplifying day-to-day banking and management of finances with OCBC Bank Money Insights, to making mobile payments real-time and social with OCBC Bank Pay Anyone, to building loyalty through insights driven contextual merchant offers and reward programs on the OCBC Bank Wow Deals app. 

We have also equipped all our frontline agents with tablets which enable them to perform account opening, wealth discovery and bancassurance sales, as well as conduct relationship management for customers remotely, with straight-through and paperless processes.

Mobile is becoming a big game changer for us. In recent years, we have seen a five-fold increase in mobile banking active users, and a growth of 28 times in the financial transactions being done on mobile. Over 55 per cent of our digital customers are now accessing us through mobile devices and they are 60 per cent more profitable. 

FST Media: Can you elaborate on OCBC Bank’s recently launched digital wealth platform for unit trusts and how have you differentiated in this space? 

Gupta: We believe that the convergence of digital and wealth will drive the real democratisation of wealth management. If your digital wealth solutions are accessible, simple and personalised, mass adoption is guaranteed.  

Our recently launched digital unit trust platform is a case in point. Customers can start investing from as low as $100, deciding which fund to buy is much easier, and contextual alerts are sent out to help customers manage their portfolios. Proof points of success- around 55 per cent of our customers are first-time investors, trade volumes are exponentially increasing and repeat purchases are high.

How did we get here? Our start point was three key customer insights centred around barriers to investing on most online platforms. Firstly, the minimum amount customers were required to invest was very high. Secondly, customers were overwhelmed and confused with way too many fund choices available. And lastly, there was no help or advice available on monitoring of portfolio after they had bought online. 

We leveraged on customer co-creation and user-centred design thinking to turn these insights into our competitive advantage. 

FST Media: What has driven the development of OCBC Bank OneTouch and how are you leveraging this first-mover advantage in biometrics to deliver value to customers and business? 

Gupta: With OCBC Bank OneTouch, we are the first and only bank in Singapore to leverage biometrics technology to allow customers access to their account balances and transaction histories on their smartphones, using Touch ID fingerprint sensor. 

We are continuously asking ourselves the question: “How do we make day-to-day banking easier, faster and more secure for the increasing number of our customers banking on their smartphones?” And that is where we started looking at a service like OneTouch.  

The inspiration came from the conversations in our customer experience and design labs. Checking of bank balances and transaction histories make up 60 to 70 per cent of mobile banking transactions, and we discovered that customers found it very cumbersome and slow to login to mobile banking just to make this basic day-to-day banking enquiry. At the same time, they did not want any compromises on security. 

When we looked at these pain points, an innovation like OneTouch made perfect sense as it married the convenience, speed and security that our customers were demanding for.  

Today, over 75 per cent of our mobile banking customers are on this service and they have used it more than a million times. In addition, being at the forefront of biometrics innovation is further encouraging the increasing use of our mobile banking channel – customer activity, satisfaction and engagement performance indicators have all increased 25 to 30 per cent since the launch of OneTouch.    

FST Media: What does innovation mean to you and how do you encourage a culture of innovation in your team?

Gupta: For me, innovation means rewriting the rule book with ideas that solve an everyday problem faced by people. It is about understanding how technology can benefit consumers, a business or an industry, and then finding a better way to bring it to life. 

At OCBC Bank, we have a clear rule: “Just because we can, does not mean we should”. 

Our approach is one of disciplined and focused innovation to solve real customer and business pain points. 

The key thing for us is to create a team environment where people are not afraid to talk about new things. We have a lot of brainstorming sessions where we take time to discuss trends and listen to ideas. Furthermore, we have institutionalised an in-house innovation program, ‘SparkLabs’, through which we extend the innovation culture outside of the team. This bank-wide platform allows participation across all departments in the bank and creates a shared customer empathy by breaking down innovation silos. Once ideas are shortlisted for commercialisation, a highly disciplined execution rigour is adopted to take it to market.  

FST Media: What is the best advice you have ever received in your career?

Gupta: In a career spanning over 16 years in banking, I received some great advice from my bosses and mentors. Of these, there are three that stand out and which I have tried to internalise. One is to be yourself – do not waste time trying to be someone else. Secondly, do not believe your own hype. You must listen, learn and always be humble. And thirdly, you are [only] as good as the weakest link in your team. You need to hire the right people and invest in developing them. 

FST Media: Every leader has a legacy they wish to be remembered for. What is yours?

Gupta: I would like to be remembered as someone who pushed boundaries and picked the right bets to make banking simpler and more enjoyable with the use of technology. I would like to be seen as someone who was affable and built a positive environment that helped people reach their potential; leaving the place better than before.