OCBC looks at using artifical intelligence to profile customer behaviour - and detect fraud

A lady walking past the OCBC Bank logo on the bank's building at Chulia Street.
A lady walking past the OCBC Bank logo on the bank's building at Chulia Street.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - OCBC Bank is testing out ways to use artificial intelligence (AI) to build a profile of customer behaviour - and do so thoroughly enough to detect fraud.

If the technology proves successful, it could prove to be crucial in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing.

The bank said in a release on Wednesday (July 19) it has worked with two financial technology firms - BlackSwan Technologies and Silent Eight - to try out financial technology solutions.

The firms use AI for suspected illegal financing, by searching for information on individual profiles, and mapping suspicious transactions to see how they may be linked, to determine if they are fraudulent or illegal.

Mr Alex Ng, OCBC's group transaction surveillance head, said: "We felt that this 'back office process' of transaction monitoring could definitely use an innovative solution to help automate things and make our investigative research more timely and effective."

The research process is done manually by an internal compliance analyst.

With the latest solutions, research that was done on a desktop can be done in one minute, instead of an hour - dramatically boosting the overall productivity of an analyst, said OCBC.

When suspicious transactions occur, they are flagged to the compliance team which searches social media accounts, newspapers, and search engines,among other things. This helps them understand a person's banking patterns, who their associates might be - and their behaviour.

Such work takes at least an hour, and with Silent Eight, digital scanning is done to put together information in a minute, and AI helps filter out irrelevant information such as people with identical names.

BlackSwan Technologies can then take over to analyse the suspicious transactions with AI.

OCBC says this involves "mapping them to a network of related transactions to identify possible connections with other individuals or companies which may be atypical or previously unknown".