24 June 2020

COVID-19 could help SG crack the final frontier of online banking

**75% use mobile banking app to check account balances, while 67% use it for bill payments
**Only 25% use mobile banking app to make short-term investments such as equities and unit trusts

Whilst the majority of Singaporeans conduct their day-to-day transactional banking online, digital wealth investing remains a bridge too far according to research by HSBC.

HSBC’s research involved surveying more than 1,100 Singaporeans on their digital banking activity. A similar survey was conducted in Hong Kong.

The survey found that the vast majority of surveyed Singaporeans use their mobile banking app for basic banking transactions such as checking account balances (75%) and paying bills (67%). However, only 21% have made long-term investments, such as bonds, using their smartphones while 25% have history of using their mobile banking app to make short-term investments such as equities or unit trusts.

Mr Ian Yim, Head of Wealth & International, HSBC Bank (Singapore) said: “Our reports shows that Singaporeans are ‘bill payers’ and not ‘investment makers’ when it comes to mobile banking. This could be due to a general lack of confidence or knowledge of how they can get started on investing. What this tells us is that more needs to be done to help Singaporeans be equipped with the basic investment know-how. Providing easily accessible online financial education resources and simple investment platforms will be key.”

To better enable its ability to enable virtual banking, especially in response to the Circuit Breaker period, HSBC has introduced 50 remote-enabled processes and customer servicing journeys in 2020.

These include:

  • HSBC Wealth Portfolio Plus which is a fully paperless digital investment tool that RMs use to conduct portfolio reviews and investment advisory engagements via video conferencing

  • Virtual structured products execution platform for Accredited Investors

  • Virtual home loan applications and onboarding

  • Virtual deposit account opening

  • Virtual loans and personal line of credit application and onboarding via HSBC Singapore app

He added: “COVID-19 has forced many parts of life to be conducted virtually. Whilst Singaporeans have not fully embraced investing digitally, we are starting to see behaviour shift. Between Jan and May this year, we saw self-directed investments into equities and unit trusts via our internet banking platform growing 3x and 2.5x respectively from the same period last year. As Singapore moves towards economic re-opening, we expect these trends to continue as challenges around digital familiarity and trust would have been cracked.”