OCBC launches fintech unit to boost partnership with start-ups

SINGAPORE - OCBC launched a new unit to drive its partnership with financial technology start-ups, in a bid to speed up the creation and deployment of innovative solutions at the bank.

The new unit, called Open Vault at OCBC, will bring in fintech start-ups to use the bank's data base and interfaces to test and develop new ideas into actual solutions, with a focus on wealth management, credit and financing, insurance, cyber security and artificial intelligence.

New solutions emerging from the Open Vault will be owned by OCBC.

The launch of Open Vault reflects the banking sector's heightened attention on the impact and opportunities arising from fintech solutions.

Business disruption by fintech start-ups and services in the digital space has raised the question of whether big banks are nimble enough to adapt.

Increasingly, the strategies have switched from competition to partnership, an aspect highlighted by OCBC chief executive Samuel Tsien as he opened the new unit on Monday (Feb 1).

"We know the world of fintech is wide and deep. More good ideas can be developed by working with external partners such as fintech accelerators, technology scouts, universities and other key stakeholders in the fintech ecosystem," Mr Tsien said.

But he stressed that results are what count: "Our key focus is to deliver outcomes and value; without this, we would not want to play in the fintech arena."

Alongside Open Vault's launch, OCBC has partnered with start-up incubation firm Nest to roll out its inaugural accelerator programme, to support selected start-ups for business and expertise mentorship. The programme will start in April.

OCBC has already had some success with investments into digital innovations. Its OneTouch app, which allows users to check bank balances via fingerprint, has accumulated over one million log-ins since its launch in March last year.

whwong@sph.com.sg