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We were niche in India, but with Digibank our aim is to become a mass brand: Surojit Shome, CEO, DBS India

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We were niche in India, but with Digibank our aim is to become a mass brand: Surojit Shome, CEO, DBS India

In 2014, DBS Bank India launched their online campaign ‘Chilli Paneer’ to engage with consumers and build brand awareness. The online film was weaved into a story format and consisted of four parts that highlighted the bank’s core offerings.

In the highly cluttered banking segment in India, this campaign acted as a game-changer of sorts. In the following year, the brand went ahead and launched a sequel called ‘Chilli Paneer 2’ – an interactive digital ad film which allowed the viewers to create their own stories during the course of the film.

This year however, the bank has plans to use the full mix of media for the launch of their latest product- ‘DBS Digibank’. It is a mobile only banking facility, which uses technology such as biometrics and artificial intelligence to enable customers to have a completely paperless, signature-less and branchless bank experience. The main aim of this new banking feature is to focus on the mass-market of retail customers. The brand has also roped in Sachin Tendulkar as the face of the campaign and he will be promoting ‘DBS Digibank’ across platforms.


Commenting on the new marketing strategy adopted by the bank,  Surojit Shome, CEO, DBS India, said, “Till recently, we were a niche brand, focusing on the corporate aspect, and using the generic media would not have made much of a sense. Now that we have launched the ‘DBS Digibank campaign’, which is unique in terms of its offerings, it makes sense for us to promote it across media platforms. I believe that for brand creation and recall one has to use all the mediums- which include digital as well as the traditional mediums and to promote Digibank, we have roped in Sachin to promote it across all the media platforms.”


The bank has invested about $500 million globally for its digital transformation. Spends made specifically for the Indian market was however not revealed.

Product benefits for customers:

Customers can download the app and start with the e-wallet and then upgrade to a savings account. Some of the key features of Digibank are that account-holders will have no minimum balance requirements; they can earn 7% interest for accounts opened on Digibank and avail free cash withdrawals at over 200,000 ATMs nationwide. The account will also provide a physical debit card which can be used across all Visa-enabled online and point-of-sale transactions, as well as overseas.

Customers can also open accounts by using Aadhaar cards, the bio-metric authentication at various places including Café Coffee Day (CCD) Outlets. The bank has currently tied up with 500 CCD outlets.

Future Plans:

Speaking about the banks’ future strategy, Piyush Gupta, Group CEO, DBS Bank pointed out, “The reason why we chose India to launch Digibank is because it is one of the fastest growing economies and with fantastic demographics. For our next market, we are planning to take it to Indonesia and China.” The bank is targeting 5 billion bank accounts in India with Digibank and wallet services in the next 2-3 years.

DBS India accounts for around 5% of the bank's global share. The bank has invested Rs. 6,500 crore in India so far. It has currently 12 branches in India and plans to operate around 70 branches in the next 4 years.

Competition scenario:

Innovation in the digital banking space for the consumers in India is not a new phenomenon. In 2015, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank and State Bank of India introduced digital wallet based apps for customers.

ICICI Bank was also the first bank in India to launch wallet based product ‘Pockets’ in 2015. HDFC Bank followed suit with PayZapp and Axis Bank with Lime, while SBI launched its mobile wallet app called SBI Buddy.

However, Digibank’s USP is its leveraging of retail partner outreach for converting the e-wallet into accounts, as DBS lacks the branch network presence of the existing players.


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