UOB opens Singapore lab to improve digital banking experience

Singapore bank launches Engagement Lab to identify ways to personalise the way it serves customers, tapping artificial intelligence and behavioural insights, and plans to open similar labs across Asean.

United Overseas Bank (UOB) has opened a lab in Singapore to identify ways to better personalise engagement with digital customers and is planning open similar facilities across its Asean network.

These would include markets such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam, the Singapore bank said in a statement Thursday.

Its new Engagement Lab (eLab) would tap artificial intelligence (AI) and behavioural insights to improve its services and interaction with digital bank customers, according to UOB.

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The bank in August said it was preparing to launch a digital bank in the region, designed to operate on a "data-centric business model" to enhance engagement across five stages in the banking journey: acquire, transact, generate data, insight, and engage.

The digital bank would tap AI to assess large volumes of transaction data to identify individual patterns, enabling UOB to better understand customers' unique banking needs and habits. The bank said it was looking to anticipate customer needs and be proactive in helping them achieve better money management.

The eLab played an integral role in facilitating this, UOB said, adding that it would the new facility would help design, test, and trial ways to encourage customers to save and spend more wisely.

It would be supported by a team that comprised professionals from various disciplines, including data analytics and behavioural and decision sciences, the bank said. It said eLabs in the different Asean markets would support their respective local language.

It planned to further boost its current team of 120, who were focused on deploying its digital bank services across Asean, by 50 percent over the next 12 months. A quarter of its new hires would be part of the eLab team.

Noting that customers in the region expected digital services to be instinctive and responsive, UOB's head of digital bank and digital banking Dennis Khoo said: "Designing a simple and easy-to-navigate app interface to create an intuitive user experience is just the beginning. We want to build on this and to ensure that every touchpoint--from the onboarding process to day-to-day banking--at our digital bank is relevant to our customers and resonates deeply with their lifestyle needs and priorities.

"Within our local eLab teams, our people will be testing and learning how best to converse with customers," Khoo explained. "We are building a glossary specific to each market which takes into consideration cultural, behavioural, and language norms."

UOB said it was looking to increase its team of technologists, including software engineers and architects, to work on projects such as the bank's in-house application programming interfaces (APIs).

It added that 45 percent of these new roles would be based in Singapore, with other positions also available in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

UOB in July launched an online financing service via Singapore e-marketplace Carousell, with the aim to speed up the application process for car loans. Available to car buyers at seven dealerships, the bank said the new service would bypass the need for manual form-filling and slash the average processing time from three days to 15 minutes.