DBS’ refreshed digiBank app – nostalgic with a fresh look

DBS recently refreshed its iBanking app on iOS and Android – finally bringing it up to par with the sleek interfaces of OCBC’s and UOB’s refreshed apps which were updated earlier this year.

As the mobile channel become increasingly important for banks to win and deliver superior customer experiences, we are seeing progressive improvements in terms of user experience over the years when banking on mobile.

As a millennial who grew up in a digital-first environment, I feel that a few key criteria for success in a mobile banking app are –

  • Frictionless authentication and login
  • Conveniently placed features – within 3 taps to execute anything
  • Buttery smooth and modern UI

Here’s an initial preview and my thoughts of the new digiBank app from DBS.

The new home screen

The new home screen is refined with sleeker animations. There is an animated background of Singapore that pans slowly sideways. Important functions within the app such as digital token, PayNow and Scan & Pay are conveniently located at your fingertips within a few clicks.

Peek balance is also now hold to activate, instead of swiping from left to right previously. The balance figure then pops up beautifully and doesn’t glitch when loading.

Clicking on the login button authenticates via Face ID for me – bringing me to the familiar dashboard showing all my accounts, cards and investments on one page.

I appreciate that the login experience was smooth and quick. Authenticating via Face ID on my iPhone was very fast and there was no OTP or 2FA required.

Redesigned dashboard modernises the old

DBS had a very useful dashboard, but the new update modernises it by removing the buggy interface, scroll lag and slow response time with its latest update, alongside some useful improvements.

Accounts of the same type are now grouped together. For example, all your deposit accounts are now grouped under Deposits and are collapsed by default, which frees up screen estate for you to view your consolidated balance across all your deposit accounts in one place.

The same goes for Investments which consolidates your investment accounts such as Brokerage, SRS and Unit Trust/ETF accounts.

This grouping is helpful when you want a birds eye view of your finances in one glance without scrolling. When you want to drill it down, you can click on the account category to see the breakdown.

At the bottom of the app is the Reorder Sections button which allows you to change the order of the accounts being displayed. Pretty neat!

The chatbot digibot is now moved to the top right of the screen, sitting directly opposite the notifications icon. Clicking on it brings you to the AI assisted chatbot to answer frequently asked queries.

Pay & Transfer – all in one place

The Pay & transfer window takes centerstage in the app, allowing you to conduct PayNow, local and overseas transfers right from this screen.

Not only that, it is also the screen for any kind of payments such as paying bills, your credit cards (other banks’ as well), top up your PayLah! wallet and examine your scheduled transactions.

I appreciate the split between Recent, All and Favourites in the main window, allowing me to quickly send money to my recent and frequently used contacts quite easily without spending too much time searching for them.

Other than consolidating all the features involving money movement in one place, when sending money, the new animations look very beautiful and cool!

The More tab – everything else you need under one roof

This is where everything else that didn’t really fit their main tabs can be found. Things like applying for loans, managing your cards (e.g. overseas usage and reviewing limits), updating your contact details/user ID/PIN and changing your app settings (e.g. default account for peek balance) can all be found here.

Concluding thoughts

Overall, the latest app refresh is a very welcomed one, and it retains many of the elements found in the previous version so existing users don’t feel overwhelmed all at once.

A few years ago, mobile banking for most banks was slow, sluggish and poorly designed, and usually just a simple web-to-mobile port without thinking how mobile experiences should really work.

Today, with competing platforms like those from technology companies and digital banks, incumbent banks are forced to innovate and deliver better mobile experiences and to serve the changing expectations of customers.

Singapore has the right frameworks in place for innovation in the financial services industry. For example, MyInfo has helped companies onboard customers onto much faster and reduced KYC lead time. The MAS regulatory sandbox gives innovative companies an experimentation platform to launch new products and services.

Although the refreshed apps from our three local banks are a good step forward in the right direction, I personally feel that much more can be done in terms of our mobile banking experience or building the banking ecosystem in Singapore.

What I’d hope to see in the next few years from our local banks, taking cue from innovative digital banks in London and the United States are –

  • In-app budgeting and analytics for spending, transfers etc
  • Automatic savings and effortless investing
  • Sub-accounts for deposits
  • API innovation in the financial services ecosystem

Speaking of innovation, I am not sure if there is much space left for digital or neobanks to operate in Singapore with the recent digital banking licenses up for grabs. Our local banks are have already established presence for decades, formed deep industry partnerships, invested millions in ecosystem development and now modernizing their platforms and apps.

Perhaps where I see them playing is in niche markets underserved by the incumbents at the moment, and operating at a leaner cost to income ratio.

There’s so much innovation coming out of the FI industry these days, and I look forward to more coming our way 🙂


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