NOV 14, 2020: A United Overseas Bank store front in the island of Penang, Malaysia. (IMG/mokjc / Shutterstock)

NOV 14, 2020: A United Overseas Bank store front in the island of Penang, Malaysia. (IMG/mokjc / Shutterstock)

UOB Bank Malaysia SEA’s first to use online video call service for insurance advice

Insurance advice, or any kind of face-to-face advisory during pandemic lockdowns can be quite challenging for both banks and their customers to achieve. 

In fact, physical banking itself is seeing marked reductions, even when lockdowns have largely eased, especially in Southeast Asia. Global consulting firm Roland Berger has projected the closure of over 9,000 bank branches (or 18%) in SEA alone by 2030.


Shifting customer expectations have also forced banks to move towards digital banking to meet their need for efficiency, speed, and convenience — bereft of the hassle of having to queue at branches.

Aside from the use of AI in operations, and changing up service offerings, banks are increasingly looking at leveraging more technologies to keep up with demand. These will help to improve certain services as the region moves rapidly into a low-touch economy.

Delivering insurance advice digitally — with a human touch

Last week, UOB Malaysia announced a tie-up with Prudential Assurance Malaysia Berhad (PAMB) to provide customers with a suite of insurance solutions digitally. 

The “Virtual Face-to-Face” (VF2F) feature will be available on Pulse, the insurer’s all-in-one health, and wellness app. 

UOB Malaysia is the first bank in Southeast Asia to use the VF2F feature, which is essentially a video calling service embedded in an app. 

This enables its customers to manage their insurance needs digitally and conveniently, especially during the ongoing pandemic.

A little more than a video conferencing service, the VF2F feature also enables UOB’s customers to go through the entire process without needing to step into a branch. 

This includes receiving financial guidance to applying for and confirming their insurance coverage including the submission of all necessary documentation and forms 

Lee Ee Hui, Senior Director, Partnerships Distribution of PAMB, said, “The pandemic has elevated the awareness of insurance protection and the critical need to be financially protected”.

“Many customers are unable to seek assistance or support at our branches due to the ongoing movement restrictions and physical distancing requirements. The impact of the prolonged pandemic also has many customers reassessing their financial goals. 

“(We are) offering our customers the flexibility and peace of mind of seeking wealth advice from the comfort of their own home”, said Ronnie Lim, Managing Director and Country Head of Personal Financial Services, UOB Malaysia.

Switching up the advanced tech strategy 

Financial institutions have been upgrading their technology to navigate around the restrictions of the pandemic. However, new tech demands new ways of managing risk.

Robotic Process Automation, blockchain, and quantum computing are the three tech innovations that can help banks stay competitive in the post-pandemic landscape.

Moving towards a conversational banking strategy will not be solely a technology endeavor — it will require the banking industry to continue to attract human talent with AI and NLP skills to keep pace with advancements of technology and ensure they’re integrated. 

However, in an age where the use of automation and AI are increasingly favored and even ubiquitous, a strategy such as UOB’s might just be the kind that could prove to be more popular.

After all, who hasn’t faced the frustration of automated “customer services” that lead to nowhere when having another human being on the line would solve or clarify issues better — especially one that requires localization for languages other than English?