Exclusive Interview with Nimish Panchmatia

DBS Bank’s Innovation Lab and Banking Technology.


Nimish Panchmatia, Managing Director and Head of Technology &  Operations, Hong Kong & Mainland China DBS Bank.


Innovation Hong Kong: Tell me about the new DBS Innovation Lab launching for start-up businesses?

DBS Innovation Lab seeks innovative startups from around the world to help us evolve our financial services and innovate how we do business. We seek innovative solutions throughout the year, provide mentorship, lectures and resources to participating startups, to help shape the future of finance.

Innovation Hong Kong: Will these mainly be tech firms or other sorts of projects?

There are all kinds of creative projects happening in the DBS Innovation Lab, from innovative ways to revolutionise the digital channel experience, and cybersecurity, to distributed ledger technology.

Innovation Hong Kong:How does it compare to similar Innovation Labs in Hong Kong from banks focused on start-ups?

Unlike other similar programmes, DBS Innovation Lab provides a platform with unique access to the real world banking ecosystem for startups to quickly deploy and iterate their ideas.

Innovation Hong Kong: Will your new lab have incubator and/or accelerator components?

Part of the lab is DBS Accelerator, which provides incubator-like components, such as a co-working space, mentorship, networking and resources for startups. Throughout the programme, we will explore different areas of focus for FinTech innovations, such as the digital channel experience, compliance monitoring and credit digitisation, to enhance the banking process and evolve our financial services. Participating startups may also have the opportunity to partner with us, which helps them accelerate their development.

Innovation Hong Kong: As part of the DBS Asia X (DAX) goal of changing the “banking mindset” to a “technology company mindset,” what are some creative currents you are channeling in Hong Kong for this?

We adopted agile methodology in project management to improve our time to market and allow us to meet changing customer needs. We also have a unique workspace called “The Vault”, where ideation forums such as hackathons take place.

Innovation Hong Kong: How is DBS maximizing the Chinese mainland’s potential with FinTech in banking innovation?

We collaborate with our wealth management business and DBS China to explore the possibility of adapting our innovations in popular instant messaging platforms used by Chinese people (e.g. WeChat) to provide offshore banking services and to cross-sell overseas investment opportunities to mainland customers.

Innovation Hong Kong: What are some “Hong Kong only” banking technology solutions that you see as truly innovative?

  • credit card application in just a few minutes; virtual card
  • DBS Accelerator programme for startups

What are some major challenges you see coming with WePay and Alipay, among other smart phone shopping technologies, for  Hong Kong retailers and banks?

Some of the risks include a much faster integration and rollout timeline for banking infrastructure, while opportunities include more contact points and data points for banks and merchants to target customers, amid the increasing adoption of digital payments.

Innovation Hong Kong: What are some banking innovations that DBS is undertaking that will make personalized banking easier?

As banking services become more customer-centric and personalised, embedding ourselves in the customer journey has become our priority. Banking innovations are not only about cutting-edge technologies or fancy gadgets, and are about seamlessly integrating our services into the customer’s everyday life. Every innovation project that we undertake is to understand the customer’s needs, identify the pain points, and address them before putting in the technology and innovations.

Innovation Hong Kong: Many view the One Belt, One Road Initiative as a boon for Hong Kong as financing can be procured here. How do you view DBS growing with financing One Belt, One Road engineering and infrastructure projects?

The total demand for infrastructure investment in Asia is huge. While a lot of it will be taken up by FDI, demand for banking financing will continue to be significant. DBS Bank does all kinds of financing, including project financing and M&A financing, and we can provide support to overseas companies participating in the Belt and Road Initiative.

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