Banking analysts estimate that 30% of revenue are under threat from emerging startups. DBS Bank’s COO of Technology and Operations, Mr Paul Cobban, shares how the DBS is using a concoction of big data analysis and human-centered design to be ahead of the competition.        

  • Organisations facing threat by digital enterprises
  • Innovate or be left out in the cold
  • Magic combination of big data and human-centered design
Tomorrow’s Medicine brings you highlights from the Singapore Healthcare Management Congress 2015.


“How many of us have left our debit card at the ATM machine before?”


To combat long queues at their ATMs, DBS bank did the instinctive first step of installing more machines.   This resulted in higher usage, which brings back the problem all over again. More ATMs do not mean shorter queues, as it would seem.


The DBS team then took to studying usage patterns of the user.   What they found was a surprising number of people leaving their cards behind, increasing the time spent per user as a result.   Another surprising find from video analysis showed that most of the users who left cards behind were male.


Short attention span, easily distracted?   Apparently not.


“They were just standing there, looking at the screen despite the machine beeping away.   The data team just couldn’t explain why,” related Cobban.


The team later found the solution through human design ingenuity.   They simulated an ATM experience and soon discovered that when the machine prompted for them to retrieve the card, the ledger balance was also displayed.


Jokes Cobban, “That explains why they’ve been staring blankly at the screen.   They were wondering what their wives bought with all their money.”  A quick re-design of the interface later, and card retention rate was up by 70%.


With a $14 billion injection of funding last year into Fintech startups worldwide, innovative solutions to real banking problems became the crux of DBS’ business model.


To remain banking industry leaders, Cobban sees the need to go beyond customer experience.   DBS wants to deliver value to their customers, one that is achieved through investments in big data analysis and human-centered design.


“Does the customer want a drill? Do they want a hole? Or do they want to hang a picture on the wall?” He asks.


"Actually," he shares, "What the customer really wants is to make his mum happy by placing a family photo on the wall."