April 26, 2016 / 11:32 AM / in 4 years

Singapore lender DBS eyes India expansion through mobile-only Digibank

DBS Chief Executive Officer Piyush Gupta speaks during an event in Mumbai, India, April 26, 2016. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

MUMBAI (Reuters) - DBS Group Holdings, Singapore’s biggest lender, is targeting a hundredfold boost to its Indian customer base within five years after announcing on Tuesday that it is adding a mobile-only banking model in Asia’s third-largest economy.

The bank’s chief executive, Piyush Gupta, said it is aiming for 5 million savings accounts in India in the next four to five years through its new Digibank model, which allows customers to open accounts and access services from smartphones and tablet computers without having to visit a branch.

DBS, part-owned by Singapore state investor Temasek, is working to take Digibank to China and Indonesia in the next 12-18 months, Gupta said, adding that the model would help to improve the bank’s cost-to-income ratio as it spends less on manpower and physical infrastructure.

Digibank will offer only savings deposits initially, but will expand to include investments and lending in the coming months, Gupta said.

DBS, which has applied to the Indian banking regulator to start subsidiary operations in the country, also aims to expand its Indian branch network in tandem with the Digibank initiative. The company aims to increase the number of Indian branches to 75 from 12 in five years, Gupta said.

The group will spend about 800 million Singapore dollars ($592 million) this year to beef up its technology, Gupta said, adding that it is not looking at any acquisition opportunities but that any potential purchases would be smaller, bolt-on deals in areas such as wealth management.

($1 = 1.3525 Singapore dollars)

Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by David Goodman

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