Accelerating acquisition around the region

Let me first talk about acquisition and our progress on this front. We doubled down on our efforts to grow our customer base across the region and I am pleased to share that new-to-bank customers across all our core markets grew 26% year-on-year.

A key initiative that drove acquisition was the launch of a fully digital account opening process for customers across the region. Consumers in Hong Kong SAR, Indonesia, Malaysia and Mainland China who plan to relocate to Singapore can open an OCBC Singapore account remotely using our OCBC Digital app – and it would take them just minutes. I am very proud of the team for pushing this through and enabling us to be the first Singapore bank to have this capability.

Acquisition for our Premier Banking segment was also strong. Here, our twin wealth hubs of Singapore and Hong Kong SAR are especially attractive. Hong Kong SAR was a market where we made a concerted effort last year. As a result, we grew our Premier Banking customer base there by 47% year-on-year. As we continue our ambition to make our Premier Banking customer onboarding process more seamless in our core markets, customers can also apply to be a Singapore Premier Banking customer if they wish. This is particularly where we want to leverage our digital strengths to capture wealth flows.

Another way that we acquire is by tapping on the strengths of OCBC Group. As our Group CEO Helen explains in her message, we have a powerful One Group, One Brand proposition. When businesses come from Greater China to ASEAN, not only can the business itself bank with OCBC, but their owners can become OCBC Premier Banking or Premier Private Client customers, too. From there, they could eventually become customers of our private banking arm, Bank of Singapore. This is what we call the wealth continuum, and we can support individuals at every stage. That is what makes us unique.

Engaging our customers digitally

Acquiring customers is just the first step. It is vital that we have meaningful engagement thereafter. We must give them a reason to continue choosing OCBC every single day. A key thrust will be to beef up our digital wealth capabilities. We already have an edge here as OCBC Digital is one of the most comprehensive digital wealth platforms and usage has been encouraging. For example, there has been a 30% year-on-year increase in the use of our OCBC Financial OneView dashboard for customers in Singapore. This allows our customers to consolidate all their financial information from various financial institutions with us, making financial planning easier. Thereafter, if they do decide to invest, they are more likely to do so with us. In 2023, there was a 45% year-on-year increase in the sale of gold on our digital app.

Even our foreign customers based in Singapore markedly increased their investments through the OCBC Digital app. In 2023, they grew their investments 1.5 times from 2022, and a whopping nine times from 2020. This speaks to how our digital wealth management services are increasingly sought after, and why we will continue to invest in strengthening our capabilities.

We also want to introduce more innovative digital products and services that address customers’ lifestyle needs. For instance, as travel continued to pick up, we strengthened our OCBC Digital app’s cross-border QR payment capabilities. Notably, there was a seven-times increase in cross-border QR payments since we launched Alipay+ on OCBC Digital in September 2023. This was in addition to our partnerships with UnionPay, Thailand’s PromptPay, Malaysia’s DuitNow and now – most recently in November 2023 – Indonesia’s Quick Response Indonesian Standard. OCBC Digital is now the most comprehensive app for cross-border payments among banks in Singapore, with the greatest number of QR-enabled payment partners.

Never losing sight of our Purpose and Values

Even as we move full steam ahead, I want to assure our customers that it will not be growth for growth’s sake. We are anchored on doing the right thing and helping customers achieve their aspirations, whether it is advising them about financing their dream home and car, or putting forth even more compelling card propositions that fit their lifestyles – the list goes on. This goes back to OCBC’s Purpose – to enable people and communities to realise their aspirations – as well as our Values. To me, this is what it means to serve from the heart, which in turn is true customer engagement.

We are proud to say that financial transactions performed digitally across our core markets are growing. In Singapore, 97% of financial transactions are now performed digitally, while the figures are 96% in Malaysia and 95% in Indonesia. Still, we cannot forget that some of our customers are not as digitally savvy. That is why we are not a digital-only bank. Branches remain key and we have leveraged them for the very well-received OCBC Digital Silvers workshops in Singapore.

In 2023, through the OCBC Digital Silvers workshops, we empowered over 2,700 elderly customers by equipping them with the basics of digital banking and knowledge on how to keep safe from scams.

‘Heart’ is also the reason why we moved quickly to protect our customers from malware and phishing scams.

In August 2023, we were the first bank in Singapore to introduce an anti-malware security feature on our OCBC Digital app. The introduction of this measure required striking a balance between security and convenience. Here, our customers’ feedback was invaluable as we tweaked the security feature to enhance customer experience without compromising their security, enabling them to turn off risky ‘Accessibility’ settings on downloaded apps so their access to the OCBC Digital app would not be blocked.

Just a few months later in November 2023, we introduced OCBC Money Lock so customers can guard against digital transfers made by scammers. We enabled customers to lock up their funds without opening a new account, and to unlock funds via our entire ATM network 24/7 without having to visit a bank branch during opening hours. Again, this was about balancing security and convenience – a tricky task, but one that I think the team managed well. We will continue to bolster our security measures going forward so our customers can bank with confidence.

I truly believe that at the heart of it all, banking is a people business. We are therefore especially grateful for our customers’ trust in us, which has spurred OCBC to become what it is today. We look forward to being their go-to partner for all their wealth and banking needs for years to come.