Asia Banks

Digital is expected to be a key driver of Standard Chartered’s retail growth in 2020

Standard Chartered Bank Singapore (“the Bank”) has recorded exceptionally high levels of digital adoption and foresees that digital will lead the way as a mainstream banking channel moving forward. The Bank expects digital services to be a key growth driver for its retail banking business in 2020.

Historic growth in digital adoption
While digital has always been a key touchpoint for the Bank’s retail clients, with two out of three being digitally active, digital adoption rates have hit historic-high levels. Digital sign-ups for credit cards grew 71% year-on-year (YoY) for the first four months of 2020, while wealth and investmentrelated transactions more than doubled. Overall, there was a 30% YoY jump in volume of digital transactions made in March 2020, while mobile banking active users increased by 42% YoY.

Even the Bank’s digitally-active silver clients aged 55 and above have been ramping up digital transactions. FAST transfers by silvers in the first quarter of 2020 grew 45% YoY, and online credit card bill payment grew by over 20% YoY for the same period.

Strong digital ecosystem, strong growth rates
Setting the right foundation by putting in place a comprehensive digital ecosystem has paid off. Over the last year, the Bank started delivering on its digital agenda not just to future-proof its businesses, especially during crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, but also to make digital banking safer, faster and more intuitive for clients.

Investments have been made into improving its digital banking and investment platforms, such as introducing instant issuance of credit cards, personal loans and account opening with Real Time Onboarding (“RTOB”), online remittance services in 10 currencies at zero transfer charges and zero FX costs with SC Remit, and a one-stop platform that allows retail clients to make FX conversions in real time at their preferred exchange rates with LiveFX. Most recently, the Bank made all service requests available on its digital platforms, providing clients with a very wellrounded palette of digital solutions.

Product sales on digital platforms in the first quarter of 2020 comprised almost half of the overall sales – an almost twofold increase from the same period last year, greatly supported by the Bank’s RTOB capabilities as clients get to benefit from the instant issuance of credit cards, personal loans and account opening. In February 2020, the Bank experienced an all-time high for online credit card sign ups with over three times the 2018 monthly average and over two times the 2019 monthly average and in April, 80% of credit card sales were via digital channels.

As the only bank in Singapore to facilitate new-to-bank Online Trading account sign ups
simultaneously with instant account opening, the Bank saw a 13-fold YoY increase in online current
and savings account volume for the first quarter of 2020. The volume of time deposits taken up
online also increased nine-fold, thanks to the enabling of dynamic rates for Time Deposits online.

Booming demand on digital investment platforms
The Bank’s Wealth Management arm has also witnessed a strong migration to digital with its digital investment platforms recording strong growth, made possible by continual enhancements to existing capabilities and development of new capabilities and solutions. This is underpinned by the focus on providing clients with smart digital tools to invest and transact at their own convenience and personalised expert advice, backed by an open-architecture suite of wealth and protection solutions.

The number of transactions and volume of digital investment platforms grew over 200% YoY, while
the number of monthly digital transactions on the Online Mutual Funds platform grew 238% and
Online Trading platform grew 160% since the beginning of 2020. In April 2020, the Bank’s Online
Trading platform saw a 129% spike in client applications compared with the average monthly rate
in 2019. The monthly volume of LiveFX also increased by 245% in 2020.

As face-to-face meet ups have not been possible, investment advisors have shifted online to using e-platforms to engage clients and provide much-needed wealth advisory in the turbulent markets. 430 webinars reaching out to over 6,000 clients were conducted by the Bank’s investments specialist team since April 2020 to keep them abreast of market developments and investment strategies, and over 1,500 one-on one online client consultations were carried out by investment and insurance specialists. The e-platform has seen great traction and clients have adapted well to the new digital way of advisory.

Dwaipayan Sadhu, Head of Retail Banking in Singapore, Standard Chartered Bank, said:
“We have seen an unprecedented increase in digital banking and investment activities among our clients. While circumstances have spurred changing consumer behaviours, our investments in strengthening our digital infrastructure have paid off in delivering the capabilities. The human touch in banking is still paramount, and our digital platforms, designed to provide as human an experience as possible, have eased clients’ transition towards banking online.

As we reopen our physical branches, it is natural that some clients will prefer to face-to-face advisory and assistance. Our branches will be ready and open to serve them. However, we encourage clients to continue using digital platforms and visit the branches only if there is a need. There is no doubt that client behaviours and habits have shifted in the past months, and we will see sustained levels of clients opting to go digital as much as possible.”


  • Editorial Director of the The Fintech Times

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