UOB connects retail banking prowess with regional ambitions for big success

UOB’s retail banking franchise in Singapore and in the rest of Southeast Asia is on the cusp of big transformation after its successful acquisition of Citi’s consumer banking assets in some of the region’s key markets. The move adds fuel to UOB’s already strong firepower in Asean – and will be critical in helping the bank leap forward faster.

UOB had a pivotal 2022: it sharpened its purpose to be the bank that will build the future of ASEAN for people and businesses in the region. To achieve its objective – and to spur a shift in the external perception of the UOB brand – the bank decided to implement an omni-channel approach to personalise the banking experience for clients and bolster its business further through strategic acquisitions.

It has certainly made big strides. In 2022, UOB’s gross revenue stayed above S$1 billion, its total billings from the southeast Asian region soared 26% year-on-year, its balance sheet showed growth with an 11% rise in deposits and a 5% rise in customer loans, while its cost-to-income ratio stayed steady at 34%.

Across the franchise, UOB boasted net client growth of an impressive 35%.

The bank’s reach, credentials and retail banking presence are second to none. One example is its leadership in the cards segment. In Singapore, UOB is the leading Visa cards issuer for personal clients – with an over 27% share of the market – and a leader in commercial cards with a 49% market share.

The reason one of two cardholders in Singapore use UOB cards is down to the bank’s ability to innovate and forge partnerships with other market leaders across sectors. For instance, UOB’s ties with leading aircraft carrier Singapore Airlines and e-commerce major Shopee hold plenty of appeal to Singaporeans looking to save costs, get cashback and earn miles on their purchases.

From a savings point of view, UOB’s One Account offers hefty interest rates of 7.8% per annum with a minimum spend of SGD 500 on eligible cards and salary credits, with women offered free cancer coverage of up to SGD 200,000 via the Lady’s Savings Account.

Thanks to such perks and more, UOB was recognised by The Digital Banker in its 2023 Global Retail Banking Innovation Awards as the Best Retail Bank in Singapore.

SOUTHEAST ASIAN POWERHOUSE

But UOB’s strengths and capabilities are not limited to just Singapore. It’s broader Southeast Asia offerings – which were given a fillip with the acquisition of Citi’s retail business in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam – meant UOB also took home the award for Best Retail Bank – Southeast Asia.

The Citi acquisition is particularly important and really shows UOB’s ambitions in the region. The purchase gives UOB immediate scale in these markets, doubles its retail client base to roughly 5.3 million, and accelerates its regional ambitions by five years. It also provides the bank with new partnership opportunities, including with the Michelin Guide in Malaysia and Thailand – giving cardholders exclusive invitations to private dinners and gala events – and with luxury fashion purveyor Club21, which offers cardholders exclusive access to celebrity brands and seasonal fashion events.

Beyond that, UOB has continued to show its commitment to tailoring wealth solutions for every customer’s unique preference, be it through online self-serve or offline relationship manager-assisted advisory, across Asean.

Meanwhile, UOB Indonesia managed to book a 16.5% jump in assets under management in 2022, while the number of wealth clients soared 9.1% from 2021. UOB has also leveraged its digital bank TMRW to bring a range of products to clients, including Buy Now Pay Later options while traveling, Click for Cash to allow customers to borrow half of their available credit lines through the TMRW app, and Auto[1]Save, a first-of-its-kind feature in Indonesia to help customers save more effortlessly.

When it comes to cutting-edge innovation and strong regional ambitions, UOB leads the way – making it an exemplary retail banking franchise in Singapore and beyond.

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