UOB targets growth outside Singapore

SINGAPORE • United Overseas Bank Ltd (UOB) plans to increase the portion of revenue it gets from outside its home market of Singapore to about 50% by 2021, despite forecasting a challenging year ahead.

“For 2019, market volatility is expected to remain,” CEO Wee Ee Cheong told analysts and investors in Singapore yesterday. “Geopolitics, rising global trade tensions and concern over a synchronised global slowdown weigh on sentiment.”

UOB will target growth in the Asean region, which already makes up the bulk of its non-Singapore revenue.

Growing internationally, while improving customer services, will attract more clients doing business throughout Asia to give it greater scale and improved risks, Wee added.

Banks globally are grappling with the rise of nonbank financial firms that offer services including loans and payments through mobile devices and other digital channels.

Hong Kong began to issue banking licences to the likes of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd affiliate Ant Financial Services Group and Tencent Holdings Ltd earlier this year, while Singapore’s financial regulator is studying similar permits.

UOB — Singapore’s third-largest bank by assets — has spent about S$1.6 billion (RM5 billion) in the five years through 2018 on technology, most of which has gone on enhancing various platforms from wealth, to cash management, according to a May presentation. — Bloomberg