It’s a bank that is known for shifting gears and has digital transformation at its core. At the heart of its complete digital revamp was a vision for emerging tech and reimagining operations which took banks across the globe by a storm. Even before machine learning and artificial intelligence became pervasive, Singapore’s DBS Bank geared for an industry-level disruption by actively focusing on inspiring its workforce from the ground up and creating a culture of innovation.
On the other end of the spectrum, the bank forged ties with FinTech companies and universities to innovate and be a part of the wider ecosystem. In 2018, the bank’s digitisation agenda won it two global awards — the ‘World’s Best Digital Bank’ and ‘World’s Best SME Bank’, making it the first Asian and Singapore bank to win two awards in the global category at the prestigious Euromoney Awards for Excellence 2018.
With Asia becoming the engine of growth, DBS Bank looked to India to strengthen its position and turbocharge digital transformation by setting up its first technology development centre outside Singapore in Hyderabad in 2016. Over the last two years, DAH2, as it is widely known, has been successful in reimagining banking by addressing a range of consumer and technological demands and coming up with innovative and relevant digital solutions for its customers. The tech hub that focuses on big data, AI, automation and cloud has also built over 200 APIs.
Analytics India Magazine caught up with Mohit Kapoor, Head, DBS Asia Hub 2 to understand his technological direction and how he successfully pivoted DAH2 from a pure cost centre into a value centre. At the heart of its transition has been the key focus on product development, R&D and industry connect that helps it strengthen the tech capabilities and support core banking operations.
“DAH2 has been at the centre of the digital transformation journey for the bank. We are focused on technology stack transformation, as much as on culture and workplace transformation,” shared Kapoor. DBS Bank, billed as one of the most futuristic banks has automated most of the core banking processes like loan processing, card cancellation/ replacement through chatbots. Also, chatbots handle around 80% of our queries on the Digibank app.
DAH2 Leads In Tech Thought Leadership By Building An Ecosystem
At DAH2, the workforce works on products like Digibank, APIs, payments, automated loans and building the ecosystem. They continue to build customer-centric digital banking solutions using the latest technology stack, AI, cloud and mobile. The centre focuses on adoption of agile, continuous learning programs, industry connects to be able to drive tech thought leadership. “Our workplace transformation focuses on building Joyspaces – DBS’s innovative activity-based working workplace design. By focusing on these, DAH2 has been able to contribute greatly to the technical capabilities required for the future of banking,” said Kapoor.
Another key aspect at DAH2 is the focus on continuous learning and innovation programs that expose the workforce to diverse skills like Cloud, IoT, AI, Machine Learning capabilities and more. The hub also has well-crafted learning programs to help upskill the workforce. “We believe in rewarding employees for learning and for experiments. Tech Design Forum is a platform to share experiments and learning within the tech clubs at DAH2,” he said, talking about promoting a culture of innovation by allowing them to run experiments. In an attempt to foster an ecosystem of developers, the centre also hosts several tech meetups, case in point the Python meetup, open source meetup, where engineers from all around the city work with in-house engineers on open source projects.
Another key way of building an ecosystem is reaching out to industry partners. One of the key highlights at DAH2 is the sharp focus on AI and as part of this, the hub conducts a workshop, known as the Makers’ workshop, where industry speakers conduct specialised workshops. The centre also runs a guest speaker series — Imaginarium, wherein startup founders and tech giants talk about emerging trends and share their experiences.
Building A Strong Talent Pipeline Through Hackathons
Under Kapoor’s leadership, talent, innovation and continuous learning have emerged as key focus areas for DAH2. The hub is known for not just building excellent banking solutions but its startup culture and offering a rewarding career trajectory. “We will continue to encourage experiments and embrace the best of technologies. We have been able to hire the best tech talent across the country,” shared Kapoor. Today, DAH2 has around 1500 engineers focusing on data, cloud, AI, automation and more.
The technology hub has also emerged as a frontrunner in reimaging its people strategies and building a through its hackathons. Today, DBS’s Hack2Hire has emerged as a strong hiring programme and is very popular amongst college campuses and the tech fraternity. With more than 13000+ candidates participating in each of these hackathons, DAH2 has built a pipeline of diverse talent.
“At DBS, we are building a 26,000 startup which thrives on ideas, experiments, learning and our PRIDE values (purpose driven, relationship-led, innovative, decisive, everything fun). I personally think that Hack2Hire for campus and experienced candidates, as well as those designed especially for women in tech, play a vital role in connecting with people who have the startup mindset,” shared Kapoor, stressing how the Hack2Hire program gave the tech hub a competitive edge in its transformation journey.
During the hackathon, the participants spend a day with the tech mentors and design PoCs (proof of concept) on problem statements, thereby encouraging out-of-the-box thinking. Recently, DBS announced the sixth edition of the Hack2Hire programme in India. Through the initiative, DBS aims to hire over 100 professionals in emerging technologies such as cloud computing, AI, machine learning and Big Data. In addition to his, they also have a ‘Hacker in Her’ hackathon programme for women and it is open to students as well as experienced candidates.
DAH2 has been successful in building a culture of experimentation which reflects in the grass root innovation, our regular workshops and industry contacts. The tech hub’s chief highlights have been investing in emerging technologies, robust talent pipeline and also constructing an outside-in perspective model which helps in supporting core banking operations. In closing, Kapoor shared the centre will focus on building a startup culture which will help shape not just great banking solutions and embrace the best of technologies.