100 million logins each year

UBS already records 100 million logins per year from its e-banking and mobile banking clients. And today, the vast majority of payment transactions are also handled via digital channels. Andreas Kubli, the digital Top Gun at UBS Switzerland, talks about new client solutions, and reveals whether the bank of the future will become 100 per cent digital or still need real live people behind the counter.

Text: Mark Baer | Photos: Marc Wetli | Magazine: Customer focus – January 2019

Andreas Kubli has been bringing a breath of fresh air to UBS ever since he joined the company in 2013. As Head of Multichannel Management & Digitization, he’s put together numerous channels and launched an array of new products for the bank. 
An example: the Paymit mobile payment solution, which was integrated into the Twint app in 2016. Other achievements of his team include the Access app and the SumUp card terminal. The app enables customers to conduct banking transactions simply and securely via their mobile phone or computer. Any gadgets necessary for further identification are now a thing of the past. SumUp, on the other hand, is designed for SMEs and start-ups and allows their customers to pay easily with credit 
or debit cards.

“The desire for a human touch will always be there.”

“The digital route has become tremendously important,” the 49-year-old tells ceo magazine. Five years ago, things were quite different. Today, though, customers are making increased use of mobile banking, e-banking, Twint and other digital offerings. “Last year, for the first time, we registered 100 million logins from our customers.” In addition to this “clear shift to digital channels”, Kubli also points out the fact that Mr and Mrs Swiss are increasingly doing their banking business via smartphones. “All in all, the number of mobile-only users has increased by almost 60 per cent alone in the past year.” In other words, 40 per cent of all active UBS Mobile Banking clients now use only the app on their smartphone to handle their digital banking transactions.

Digital payments

That the bank is becoming increasingly digital is something Kubli also sees in the ways it communicates with clients and goes about processing payment transactions. “Today, more than 60 per cent of our customers already receive their bank documents electronically,” explains the Zurich urbanite. In addition to providing convenience for customers, the switch to e-documents also increases the bank’s efficiency. “In the past, we sent on average more than 100 pages of paper per year and customer in some 30 envelopes. With 2.5 million customers, those were tons of documents and countless trees that can now be saved.

Meanwhile, the payment transactions of UBS clients are now conducted almost exclusively via digital channels such as e-banking, mobile banking or Multimat machines at the branches. “Today, less than 1 per cent of all payment orders are still submitted at the counter, by letter, fax or e-mail,” says Andreas Kubli.

The payment app Twint now has one million activated users, and roughly 400,000 of them use the app at least once a month. “That’s quite a respectable number,” digital aficionado Kubli is pleased to say.

Andreas Kubli has been Head of Multichannel Management & Digitization at UBS Switzerland AG since 2013. As Group Managing Director, he is responsible for the digital activities of UBS Switzerland. Under his leadership, various digital channels and e-customer solutions have been introduced. He joined UBS in 2010 as Head of Strategy Switzerland. The 49-year-old Zurich townsman originally studied jurisprudence and graduated with a degree in law. After having earned his Master of Law in New York, he worked for McKinsey in Zurich and Hong Kong for a total of 12 years.

Digitalisation is a win-win for both sides

The bank clientele who benefit from UBS’s digital offerings are “happy and loyal”, according to Andreas Kubli. “The customer satisfaction reported by these people is significantly higher, and they tend to stay with us.” The departure rate for customers who use digital products is 70 per cent lower than for those who have yet to go digital. Moreover, this particular Swiss universal bank also generates significantly more income with digitally active customers. “In private banking, for example, the trading turnover of digital clients is 80 per cent higher than that of non-digital clients.”

“In private banking, for example, the trading turnover of digital clients is 80 per cent higher than that of non-digital clients.”

So it comes as no surprise that the Multichannel Management & Digitization area is important for UBS. Under Andreas Kubli, a team of 180 people now work in Switzerland and about 20 in Poland. A digital factory has also been set up at the bank’s headquarters on Zurich’s Paradeplatz. Employees from all areas of UBS work there. “In the Digital Factory, we put our heads together and constantly deliberate on what banking is like from the client’s vantage point,” explains Kubli. “In this connection, we define so-called client journeys and think less in terms of bank-internal silos the way we used to do.” The Digital Factory has therefore changed UBS’s structures. Another facility of its kind will be added later this year at the bank’s offices on Hardturmstrasse in Zurich.

UBS is the largest Swiss universal bank. Switzerland is the only country in which the bank pursues all five of its specialised business areas – personal banking, wealth management, corporate and institutional clients, investment banking and asset management. UBS employs a total of around 21,000 people around the world and services 2.5 million clients. In 2022, UBS will celebrate its 160th anniversary.


«High tech and high touch»

Today, customers are integrated into the development process at a very early stage, for example when it comes to testing prototypes. The related findings flow into the further development efforts. The agile work approach at the Digital Factory always centres on solving customer problems. “With all our developments, the client is constantly in the spotlight.” Today’s customers expect from their bank simple, fast services that are available anytime and anywhere.

Digitalisation will create new segments and lines of business also in the broader financial services industry. Andreas Kubli cites the blockchain-based trade finance platform we.trade as an example. This international project, in which UBS is the only Swiss bank participant, aims to help business clients conclude complex raw goods transactions economically and without their having to deal with reams of paperwork.

Despite the relentless march of digitalisation in the financial sector, Andreas Kubli doesn’t believe that his firm will ultimately become a 100 per cent digital player. “As a universal bank, we’ll take the hybrid approach for the majority of our customers also in the decades to come: high tech and high touch.” Especially when it comes to complex client needs, such as real estate financing or the issues relating to corporate succession, personal contact will remain a central element according to this UBS manager and family father.

Andreas Kubli as a customer

What product or service would you definitely not want to do without?
My two smartphones. For instance, when I’m waiting for my Uber driver to show up, I can follow his approaching car on one device and read the newspaper on the other smartphone. I think that’s great!

I’m still looking for the paperless office that nonetheless offers me all the amenities of paper. During a meeting, for example, I usually have various dossiers in small folders in front of me. I can quickly flip from one to the other. With a smartphone, it’s still difficult to switch from one file to the other. In a perfect digital world, I’d like to see precisely this advantage that paper offers.

What do you appreciate that’s still the same as it always was?
My more than 60-year-old watch, which I bought at an auction 15 years ago. I’d never trade this Rolex for a smartwatch. I have nothing against clever watches, but they don’t offer me any added value at the moment; if they did, I’d be wearing one right now on my other wrist.

How do you arrive at personal decisions – rationally, or straight from the hip?
When it’s a matter of product type, I buy rationally. But when it comes to the product itself, I tend to choose more emotionally. For example, I bought a gadget that acts as a constant hotspot when I travel abroad. The mere fact that I wanted such a roaming fee saver was a head decision. But the actual choice of device was a gut-level decision.

What’s at the top of your shopping list for 2019?
I always plan little New Year’s projects. This year, I have my mind set on buying a drone. Last year, I tested several voice assistants.