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DBS brings Asia and the West together

One of Asia’s leading financial services group, Singapore-based DBS Bank has been expanding its presence across the entire region, particularly in mainland China and India, by capitalizing on the trends transforming the Asian economy: a growing middle class, booming infrastructure, increased urbanization and the spread of e-commerce.

As a major financial, technological and digital hub in Asia, Singapore has gained the advantage of playing economic intermediary between the region and the West. That position becomes more significant as Asia, for the foreseeable future, will eclipse the United States and Europe in terms of economic growth.

With DBS CEO Piyush Gupta

With the steady entry of investment from the West, DBS wants to become the Asian partner of choice for its counterparts in the United States and Europe. And being a bank born in Asia, DBS possesses the local knowledge about investment opportunities across the region.

“This has been remarkably successful for us. Following the global financial crisis, investors were wary of putting all their eggs in one basket. Therefore, they were quite keen to find a banking partner who could bring Asia to them,” CEO Piyush Gupta said.

Because the United States remains one of the largest trading partners of Singapore, connectivity is vital. The city-state also offers distinct advantages that its neighbors are unable to provide: stability, state-of-the-art technology and advanced infrastructure. It can also bring transformation on the industry level much faster and drive the end-to-end value chain, a huge and costly challenge in the massive U.S. and Chinese markets.

Despite all its advances in becoming a smart nation, Gupta believes that cultural transformation is still the biggest challenge. In developing these softer features, DBS plays its role well. The bank that encourages all its employees to take risks and adopt a startup mindset that allows them to leverage technology in performing their work and attending to clients.

“We need to have a culture where it’s okay to experiment. This way, we will redefine the norms on how people can live their lives,” Gupta said. 

As it works closely with other industries and the government to change the business landscape, DBS hopes to improve payment capabilities in Singapore, create a utility to speed up processing and identification and, lastly, become a platform that brings together several diverse industries through technology.

“Asia is growing faster than anywhere in the world and more capital will want to come from the U.S. and find a way to work in Asia. Singapore, being a smart center that absorbs innovation and capital, has to continue developing and play a vital role in the rest of the region,” Gupta said.

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Singapore 2017 was prepared for and originally printed in Foreign Affairs magazine.

PDF of the printed report

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