DBS’s cloud conundrum: A matter of priorities

David Gledhill, Group CIO, DBS Bank

DBS Bank is situated at a cloud crossroads of sorts. Cloud computing has worked out so well at the Singapore-based bank that the organization has progressed beyond cloud security concerns to debating how best to leverage the technology.

“We were previously constrained by our ability to scale, but the cloud has presented us with an opportunity to experiment like we couldn’t do in the past,” says Group CIO at DBS Bank David Gledhill (pictured).

DBS has made various success ventures into the cloud. Its mobile payment solution, dubbed PayLah, is cloud-hosted, as is its branch-free, mobile-only Digibank offering in India, which launched in the first half of 2016. Digibank features three main fintech products - a chatbot named Kasisto, a personalized spending recommendations product named Moneythor and V-Key, an in-app security locker.

Running Digibank on the cloud has afforded DBS the benefit of operating nimbly and scaling rapidly, shares Gledhill. The product was built using agile methodologies and took just nine months to be developed and released. Rapid experimentation allowed for the Digibank mobile app to be updated weekly, but this frequency soon slowed to become monthly as DBS found its pace of development hampered by the app approval process at Apple’s App Store.

“Apple was slowing us down,” Gledhill says.

Later that same year, Digibank was launched for the Indonesian market – likewise the result of agile development.

Staying competitive will require DBS in Singapore to alter its mindset so agility is embedded into all processes, much like how it operates in India, states Gledhill.

 “We need to run like a 22,000 person startup. You can’t move very far as a bank today if you can’t achieve that,” states Gledhill. “Rather than seeing fintechs as competitors, we’re aiming to be a fintech integrator. Integrating all these awesome ideas into a single product is part and parcel of the automation journey we’re on.”