For banks that aim to compete in a region as diverse as Asean, innovation at scale is a critical competitive edge, said a top UOB executive.
Not only is it more efficient as synergies are optimised across the different markets, it also results in speed to market as solutions and services get rolled out quickly without having to start from scratch each time, said Susan Hwee, head of group technology and operations at UOB. This enables banks such as UOB to stay nimble in the light of the stiff competition in the region, she added.
Ms Hwee said UOB's technology strategy and resources are focused on the bank's business priorities: to extend its regional connectivity to support its wholesale banking business; expand its omni-channel and digital strategy to target the rising affluent in Asean; and enhance regional infrastructure to optimise synergies and scale.
To enable these priorities, standardisation is required across the bank's regional network for a seamless customer experience across the region, she said.
UOB's IT architecture features standardised core systems on which an integration layer is built - this layer enables the bank to plug in new technologies as it innovates for customers and to scale up these solutions quickly across the region, she added.
"At the same time, we are able to limit exposure to our core banking systems, thereby ensuring that we continue to meet our robust risk management frameworks."
One of UOB's most salient examples is its digital bank TMRW, which was built in 14 months and deployed across Thailand and Indonesia in a matter of months.
While TMRW is the same digital bank in both markets, there are still some differences such as in the onboarding process to address the regulatory, technological and cultural nuances of each market, she said.
"By building on our modular regional platform, we have the agility to adapt TMRW to meet the different country regulatory requirements without rebuilding the digital bank from scratch."
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