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Singapore's DBS says digital strategy fundamental to its future

DBS bank will invest in new banking technology to ensure it can survive challenges from new digital payment companies , chief executive Piyush Gupta told the Financial Times.30 Sep 2015

The bank has to get its "digital transformation right in the next five years" or it will be not survive, Gupta told the newspaper.

DBS has already taken a stake in a UK-based voice recognition company and begun a pilot online banking project in India, the newspaper said.

Older banks can play to their strengths as established players and take advantage of things like their reliable payment systems, Gupta told the newspaper, while investing in new businesses that are appearing in the market.

Deloitte said last week that without action, big banks risked being reduced to "utility" status, with innovative services like Paypal taking over front-end payment initiation and processing services. Although this was a "viable" approach, banks risked lower margins and eroding consumer trust as a result, it said.

Most large banks prefer to collaborate with emerging fintech providers on innovative products, rather than develop their own products in-house, Deloitte said.

According to Deloitte, banks accounted for only 19% of the $10 billion invested in fintech in 2010. Investment by non-banks accounted for 62% of the total, with collaboration between banks and non-banks accounting for the remainder.

DBS's Gupta ruled out a rumoured takeover of UK bank Standard Chartered and said that a failed attempt in 2012 to take over Indonesian bank Danamon had been a "blessing in disguise", the Financial Times said.

Instead, all efforts will be put behind the new strategy of digital growth. "We’d rather not be caught fighting yesterday’s battle. We’d rather focus on tomorrow’s war," he said, according to the Financial Times.