SWISS bank UBS officially opened a new innovation centre here yesterday that focuses on developing financial technology (fintech) products for its wealth-management customers.
The centre, named Evolve, works closely with start-ups and bank clients to develop solutions that could be applied to the world market.
UBS’ wealth-management arm has invested more than a billion Swiss francs in IT globally over the past year. Its new facility here will complement similar centres in Zurich and London.
The Singapore centre, the first of its kind in the region, is in the UBS Business University Asia Pacific, at the historic Command House off Bukit Timah Road.
The centre has 10 staff, with plans for expansion. It will also work with IT experts across the company.
Mr Juerg Zeltner, president of UBS Wealth Management, said at the opening ceremony that Singapore was chosen for the innovation centre due in large part to its well-developed tech ecosystem and the Government’s “smart nation” initiative.
Asia is also becoming increasingly important to the bank, given its growing wealth, Mr Zeltner added.
Billionaire wealth in the region is set to surpass that of the United States in the next five to 10 years, according to the UBS/PwC 2015 Billionaire Report.
Asian banking clients are also more digital than in other parts of the world, with almost 40 per cent preferring digital contact over direct contact.
Fintech represents the banking industry’s “largest opportunity” if well-utilised, Mr Zeltner said.
“Rather than being afraid of one day being disrupted (by fintech), it’s a better attitude to embrace the changes.”
Mr Zeltner added that UBS Wealth Management invests “hundreds of millions of dollars” a year in digital products.