Speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong at the official launch of Trust Bank on Thursday, 1 September 2022 at Vivocity.
Chairman and CEO of Trust Bank, Corporate Leaders and Partners at NTUC Enterprise, FairPrice, and Standard Chartered Bank, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
Thank you for inviting me to join you this morning for the launch of Trust Bank.
You could not have chosen a better time for a launch, because it is the week where we have started to relax our safe management measures even further.
I am glad that we are here today to welcome Trust Bank as the latest addition to Singapore’s financial ecosystem.
Trust Bank is the result of a unique and wonderful partnership between Standard Chartered Bank and FairPrice Group, two well-known and trusted institutions in Singapore. StanChart has a rich history in Singapore – for over 160 years it has served the people and businesses in Singapore. Today, it is well-known for its commitment to innovation and to supporting social, and economic development around the world. FairPrice Group has helped moderate the cost of daily essentials and meals for Singaporeans for close to 50 years. Behind FairPrice Group is NTUC Enterprise, the social enterprise arm of NTUC, which has also served the social needs of generations of Singaporeans; providing quality yet affordable services in many areas like childcare and eldercare services.
StanChart and FairPrice Group share many common values – doing good for the community, acting as stewards and trustees of the future, and making Singapore a better place for the next generation. That’s why when I first heard about the idea of this partnership about 3 years ago, in my capacity as Chairman of the Singapore Labour Foundation, my first thought was that this would be an excellent partnership to form Singapore’s latest digital bank.
As a fully digital bank, Trust Bank will certainly add to the diversity of our banking system, and help strengthen Singapore’s digital ecosystem and economy.
The addition of Trust Bank is also very timely. The pandemic has accelerated our society’s embrace of digital services. Our seniors, for example, traditionally seen as less tech savvy, have started using digital banking services. One study done by the Singapore Management University showed that 80% of bank customers aged 60 and above used digital banking in 2021. That is quite remarkable. When I first saw the statistic, I couldn’t quite believe it. My yardstick for attitudes among seniors is my mother. My mother, for the longest time, would not even use a smartphone. She preferred a basic phone because she said a smartphone was too complicated. But when the pandemic struck, she was persuaded to use a smartphone, and to come onboard using WhatsApp and Zoom, because she needed to communicate and keep in touch with her friends. Where banking is concerned, I have had zero chance of persuading her, up till now, to use digital banking. She insists on having a bank book, going to the bank counter, getting the book updated and seeing the details in print. But if 80% of bank customers who are seniors are using digital bank services, I think I may yet persuade her. And who knows, the fact that she is a loyal FairPrice customer could help too.
Attitudes like this are constantly changing, and as more and more people embrace digital services, there is so much potential for the banking sector to relook how to do things differently and serve your customers better.
In particular, I am very happy that this is what Trust bank aims to do. I understand you plan to cater to older Singaporeans and the less tech-savvy by simplifying banking and being transparent about your products and services. You also intend to launch innovative products to better meet the needs of customers, like Singapore’s first credit card that lets customers choose their repayment date. Through all this, I understand that Trust Bank hopes to redefine the digital banking experience in Singapore. These are all worthwhile goals, and I wish you every success in achieving them
I would also encourage Trust Bank to protect your customers from ever-evolving banking scams, and to maintain a high level of data security. I understand that you have designed your tech infrastructure with this in mind. But beyond digital infrastructure, consumer education will be very important. This will require collective efforts from the Government and the MAS, banks, as well as every individual, working together to ensure everyone adopts good online banking hygiene practices.
I know many people have been hard at work on this partnership, particularly for this launch event. I am sure all of you must be tremendously chuffed and very proud to see the fruits of your hard work over the last 3 years, finally coming to fruition today. But in fact, this is only the beginning of a long journey ahead of you. You all know that there are challenges operating in Singapore’s environment, particularly in consumer banking. We are a small market which is relatively well-served, so finding opportunities here is not easy. Moreover, existing banks already have digital platforms, and there are other new digital banks coming very soon. But I encourage you to embrace the competition, embrace the challenge, and hopefully this healthy competition will motivate you and all the other players to keep on innovating and keep on improving your products.
I have no doubt that the entire team at Trust Bank will do your best to serve your customers well, and reaffirm Singapore’s position as an innovative and trusted financial centre in Asia.
On that note, I wish Trust Bank all the very best as you strive to be a trusted partner for everyone in Singapore.
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