Banking For The 21st Century: Q&A With DBS’ Global Transaction Services Group Head Soon Chong Lim

Soon Chong Lim, group head of Global Transaction Services at DBS, discusses how banks help treasuries make the most of new technologies.

Global Finance: How is technology assisting treasury departments, and how are banks helping them implement digital solutions?

Soon Chong Lim: DBS’ digital transformation investments over the past few years have helped position us well to support our treasury clients. We moved our infrastructure onto the cloud several years ago; today, more than 90% of the bank’s infrastructure is on the cloud. With DBS’ APIs, we offer the greatest number of APIs in the world [by a bank] to allow customers to seamlessly integrate banking, data and workflows into our customers’ environment for their treasury and financial management needs. For instance, corporate clients can improve payments efficiency, and seamlessly access real-time visibility of their cross-border cash payments and collections, by leveraging our cloud and API solutions.

Cash management has advanced materially in the past couple of years on the back of the accelerated pace of digital adoption globally. This trend has been driven by the availability of new technologies that deliver transformational changes that enterprises had sought to achieve for some years, together with emerging needs from the new business landscape that the pandemic and prolonged geopolitical tensions have created. Progressive banks—which have invested in cloud-based architecture, API connectivity and the digitalization of traditional product sets as well as in their human capital to deliver differentiated digital and co-creation advisory and services—have been best placed to respond to the wave of digitally driven transformations that companies have embraced during this year.

In today’s highly digitalized business environments, the focus of CFOs and treasurers has extended to working closely with their commercial business heads in identifying new, tech-enabled business opportunities. The overall digital experience that a cash management partner can provide across their entire commercial ecosystem—from driving efficiencies in their treasury and operations to partnering with their businesses to grow market share or enter new markets—is what counts today. The change has been dramatic. So, a broader understanding of the advantages of integrating digital banking and data services into core internal and customer-facing platforms has become more widely accepted by leading treasurers as an essential aspect of their role with the enterprise.

GF: How are you facilitating seamless cash management services?

Lim: Immediate settlement and accurate information management are opportunities where corporates can leverage technology to adapt to the new norms arising from the pandemic. At DBS, we leverage a range of digital solutions to enable real-time payments and collections, enhance the accuracy of forecasts, facilitate automated reconciliation and tighten the management of credit extensions to customers. With our APIs, our digital banking solutions can also plug and play into client systems and processes without hefty investment costs and technical integration, thus reengineering workflows for greater efficiency. This has allowed our corporate clients to improve control of cash flow to optimize working capital more effectively, gain flexibility in reorganizing their supply chains and deepen relationships with key suppliers.

GF: How does DBS uncover corporate client pain points and help individual clients select the most appropriate actions/solutions?

Lim: At DBS, we have been running co-creation workshops with customers to identify and craft digital solutions for the past few years. Our digital advisory and execution capabilities came to the fore in 2020, when we could leverage our digital readiness to help our customers counter challenges and take advantage of transformational opportunities brought into sharp focus by the pandemic and prolonged trade disruptions. Working with customers to redesign their customer and supplier journeys and to reengineer business processes at an urgent pace was intense. Still, it allowed us to work even more closely with our customers to help solve challenges in an ever-evolving environment and capture new opportunities, strengthening and redefining our relationships.