#Asia Inside DBS’s plan to raise future generations of financially literate Singaporeans


How Singapore’s oldest bank is innovating for its youngest customers



How early should children learn how to save money?

If you ask DBS, the answer would be: as early as possible.

Teaching children personal money management is a challenge that the bank has been meeting for decades. If you were born in Singapore in the 70s, you’re probably familiar with collecting stamps and saving under the POSB National Savings Campaign. The programme, which is more fondly known as the POSB Saving Stamps Programme, is directed toward children and may very well attribute its success to having that oftentimes elusive fun factor in teaching; children have fun collecting the stamps and unwittingly have the habit of saving ingrained in them along the way.

Also read: How banks in Singapore are supporting entrepreneurs and SMEs

The cultivation of sensible savings and spending habits among young students has always been one of the bank’s goals and the evergreen popularity of the recently relaunched POSB National Savings Campaign is testament that Singaporeans agree.

Though the question remains – how can Singapore’s oldest bank continue to drive this culture, especially in a society that is increasingly becoming more technology-driven and cashless?


Leverage trends: creating a contactless ecosystem

Children these days are more inclined to use new tech – having grown up surrounded by ever-changing technology trends, these children are oftentimes more equipped than their parents to adapt to new trends. One of these trends is the wearable tech that has been enjoying increasing popularity, what with the success of devices such as FitBit and Apple Watch. These devices, oftentimes paired with downloadable apps, are mostly used to track and record health-related data.


Also read: From shoes to Snap: 5 of the coolest wearables on the market


But while popular with health-conscious consumers, the technology is certainly not limited to that. With this in mind, the bank introduced POSB Smart Buddy – the world’s first in-school wearable savings and payment programme.

The programme allows students to use portable and wearable devices such as customised POSB watches or modified student concession cards to digitally purchase POSB National Savings Campaign Smiley stamps and credit its equivalent value with every purchase in school canteens and bookshops.


POSB Smart Buddy being showcased at the launch of DBS’ newest innovation facility – DBS Asia X

An accompanying app teaches the students the basics of financial management by giving them the ability to monitor their spending. For parents, the programme, through its app, also allows them to set and adjust allowances and track their children’s finances. Gone are the days when parents have to count out change for their children’s in-school expenses; they could simply set daily allowances and, if need be, instantly send additional budget for emergency purchases through the app.


How POSB Smart Buddy works:


Put the customer at the center: designing with the community

There is no better way to know how, why, and if a product is going to be used than to ask the people who would use it. Before launching POSB Smart Buddy, for example, DBS went straight to the people who would be interacting with the programme the most – the users. Interviews, surveys, and customer immersion were conducted for the bank to gain insight and feedback on every stage of the user experience from the key players.

The first iteration was tested at a pilot programme in one school, where students used POSB wearable bands to purchase food and drinks. This iteration allowed DBS to gather feedback on the band’s wearability, time features, real time updates, and transaction duration, which allowed for enhancements to both products and systems. After gathering insights, the band was redesigned into a customised watch. The terminals of the canteen were also upgraded with a point-of-sales function that allowed vendors to digitally track their daily sales and students to view their remaining allowance.

The team credited “the strong support and participation from the school leaders, vendors and parents” as imperative in making the pilot a success. These people, after all, will be the ones entrenched in the programme and it’s best that its entirety is designed based on how the users will interact with it.


Integrate and innovate: collaborating across functions

Developing a new product requires a lot of resources, much of which is not found in a single team. When developing the POSB Smart Buddy, the bank leveraged on internal collaboration across cross-functional teams involving representatives from the product, retail marketing, online e-business, and customer experience teams, as well as the call centres and branches.

The collaboration between these teams involved not only the creation of the product but also the development of marketing materials, effective communication with partners and users to ensure understanding of the product functionalities and mechanics, and timely troubleshooting of issues.


This commitment to collaboration is mirrored in DBS Asia X (DAX), the bank’s newest innovation facility where staff, startups, and students can explore and experiment financial solutions that would disrupt current finance and banking processes. At DAX, collaboration not only happens between the teams but with other entrepreneurs, strategists, and innovators as well.


Find out more: DBS Asia X


Expanding reach

New products, of course, need not be limited to their current market or use as demonstrated by what DBS has in store for POSB Smart Buddy. By working with established partners with resources that could help scale products and expand currently offered services, the bank is hoping to expand POSB Smart Buddy’s beyond canteens and bookstores in schools. The POSB Smart Buddy platform is flexible enough to include other features and this allows other organisations to develop it to fit what they need – be it an expense tracker for businesses or even a device to transfer cash for donations to charitable institutions.


A variety of innovations by the bank was showcased at the launch of DBS Asia X


POSB Smart Buddy is one of many recent innovations that the bank has implemented to address the changing financial needs of generations of Singaporeans. Taking its history seriously, the bank has reimagined its iconic “Save-As-You-Earn” programme that was originally launched in the 1970s and relaunched a slew of other programmes including “Save-As-You-Serve for those doing National Service.

The difference now is the bank’s digital focus, with its win from Euromoney’s World’s Best Digital Bank in 2016, a nice feather in its cap two years before Singapore’s oldest bank turns 140. We can only imagine what the 2050 version of POSB Smart Buddy will look like, but we expect that future generations will still be using POSB.


Watch: DBS Innovates


Disclosure: This article was produced by the e27 content marketing team, sponsored by DBS

The post Inside DBS’s plan to raise future generations of financially literate Singaporeans appeared first on e27.

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