How DBS Bank’s digitalisation paid off during the pandemic

Group CIO Jimmy Ng details how the Singapore-based bank used its in-house technology expertise to quickly change work tactics, aid customers, and still double down on diversity and green strategies.

jimmy ng dbs bank
DBS Bank

DBS Bank, a Singaporean multinational banking and financial services corporation, is the largest bank in Southeast Asia by assets and among the larger banks in Asia. It has been investing in digitalisation for years, but saw a significant payoff in 2020 as the digital efforts helped the bank adapt to pandemic-induced uncertainties by strengthening their resilience so that they could continue delivering best-in-class service to their customers in their time of need.

In this interview, Jimmy Ng, group CIO at DBS, explains how his team faced the pandemic and how their preparedness saw them through the crisis, to the benefit of customers, employees, and the bank’s stakeholders. Those efforts garnered DBS Bank a CIO 100 US award in 2021, the latest of several CIO 100 US and CIO50 ASEAN awards the bank has won over the years.

CIO ASEAN: When the pandemic hit the region and the world, what was your first reaction as a CIO?

Ng: In the early days of the COVID-19 crisis, it was difficult to predict the severity of the pandemic as the situation was evolving and information was scarce. In hindsight it is clear, but where we were then, we were trying to make sense of how severe the situation was and how long this outbreak would last.

The pivotal moment was when the Chinese authorities locked down Wuhan province just days prior to the Chinese New Year. We knew then it was serious, and we activated our business continuity plan for China.

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