David Gledhill
Head of Group Technology and Operations
DBS Bank

Can a bank seriously be “committed to creating joyful banking experiences for its customers”? That’s how DBS Bank describes its marketing mission these days. After several years of ramping up one of the banking world’s most aggressive digital strategies, under the leadership of David Gledhill, Singapore-based DBS may actually be delivering on that promise. Gledhill, head of group technology and operations since joining DBS from JPMorgan Chase & Co. in 2008, is adding on to a well-laid foundation. In the Singapore home market alone, there are 2.5 million online and 1.25 million mobile customers, according to the 2015 annual report by DBS, which has 439 billion Singapore dollars ($324 billion) in assets. Now the focus is on enhancements like person-to-person payments and voice and fingerprint authentication to make transactions easier, safer and, Gledhill emphasizes, more fun. He has a vast geographical expanse in which to roll out innovations: 18 Asian markets served by 280 DBS branches. In April, DBS launched digibank, India’s first completely branchless and paperless mobile banking service; it uses Siri-like conversational technology, and customer authentication piggybacks on the national Aadhaar identification card. The digibank app in Singapore runs on Apple Watch as well as on smartphones that rely on fingerprint ID to let customers check their balances with a simple swipe. “Digibank brought together groundbreaking technology, from biometrics to artificial intelligence to dynamic security,” says Gledhill, 54. “Plans are in the pipeline to replicate this platform in other markets.” Digitization is not confined to consumer interactions. “DBS is applying analytics to better understand and serve our customers and employees, and to enhance our operations and risk surveillance,” says Gledhill, who oversees more than 5,000 of the bank’s 22,000-plus employees. “Analytic tools are also being used by DBS’s audit and global transaction services teams to swiftly identify potential errant behavior.” He adds that he is “hugely passionate about creating a fintechlike workforce that adopts the habits of digitally native companies.” Employees are encouraged to collaborate with start-ups in hackathons and can apply to join an incubation program, DBS HotSpot, for mentoring and potential seed funding. In 2015 more than 2,000 DBS employees participated in these initiatives, Gledhill says.

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