Singapore’s multinational bank DBS has officially launched its business-matching programme for startups, called Startup Xchange, in two of its biggest markets, Singapore and Hong Kong.
The programme is designed to help DBS and its corporate and SME clients find solutions for their business by tapping on the expertise of startups, who will co-create these solutions with the bank.
By working closely with the startups and clients, DBS wants to buck what appears to be a downward spiral trend for conventional accelerator programmes.
A DBS research found that 78 per cent of accelerators launched in Singapore over the past three years are now defunct as many startups had failed without the continued support from established sponsors and partners.
In addition, an Ernst & Young ASEAN Fintech Census earlier this year also revealed that less than 39 per cent of fintech startups benefitted from fixed tenures at accelerators.
Startup Xchange will focus on four areas of technology: artificial intelligence (AI), data science, immersive media and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Since its pilot launch several months ago, Startup Xchange has matched 21 startups with units within the bank (e.g., Human Resources) as well as the bank’s SME clients. This has resulted in the successful rollout of 10 solutions to date, with another 10 expected to be launched over the next 12 months.
One example of a successful Startup Xchange project is with impress.ai. The Singapore-based recruitment AI startup and DBS SME client partnered with DBS’ HR team to create JIM, a virtual bank recruiter.
The launch of JIM helped to drive up impress.AI’s value proposition to the market, and played a part in helping it grab a US$1.2 million seed funding from REAPRA last month.
The company logged a five-fold increase in monthly revenues from the partnership with DBS, and now works with 15 large enterprise customers, including AXA, NTUC Income and Singtel.
“Joining the Startup Xchange programme was the right next step in our journey to gain business momentum and revenue growth,” said CEO and co-founder of impress.ai, Sudhanshu Ahuja, in an official press release.
Another DBS SME customer, iconic Singapore nightclub Zouk, partnered with fintech startup Every Botty to build F&B ordering chatbot called Foodster.
This allows its customers to skip the queue — which, in a packed nightclub, is often disorganised — by ordering and paying via Facebook Messenger and DBS payment channels, such as DBS PayLah! and DBS/POSB cards.
Today, Every Botty has expanded its F&B portfolio and has partnered up with established brands such as Da Paolo and Subway.
DBS is no stranger to pushing digital innovation; in July this year, it was awarded the “World’s Best Digital Bank” by the Euromoney Awards for Excellence 2018. EuroMoney said DBS had “shown the power of being articulate about digital banking” and translated its astute digital initiatives and tools into high profitability.