UOB's 'robots' slash data processing times

Two robots that have been assigned to teams supporting UOB's wholesale banking and retail businesses.
Two robots that have been assigned to teams supporting UOB's wholesale banking and retail businesses.PHOTO: REUTERS

United Overseas Bank (UOB) is employing two robot-like creations - "virtual employees" as they are termed - to tackle tasks its human employees find too boring.

The bank yesterday said the "robots", named Amy and Eve, are slashing the time taken on repetitive and time-consuming tasks such as data processing.

It is understood that Amy and Eve are not physical robots, but programs using Robotics Process Automation software that execute "the more mundane data entry tasks".

They were assigned to teams supporting the wholesale banking and retail businesses about three weeks ago.

A UOB spokesman said: "The speed and accuracy at which robots such as Amy and Eve can process such transactions enable us to respond faster to our customers in the long run. The introduction of robots into our workforce also enables us to improve our process through tech while maintaining a human touch."

Amy and Eve have already reduced data processing times by more than half, and allowed human employees to focus on more stimulating and challenging jobs, said UOB.

Amy helps to process requests for Letters of Credit by the bank's corporate customers. It extracts a wide range of data and then enters it into the system for approval by a human colleague.

UOB said: "What used to take up to 240 seconds, 12 screens and multiple cross-checking for accuracy takes Amy only 40 seconds to complete."

  • 97% 

    Decrease in processing time after a robot was assigned to OCBC's consumer secured lending team

Eve's strength is in maths. It reviews credit card applications, a process that involves combing through a customer's Central Provident Fund statement to compute his annual income.

The information is provided to its human colleagues, who then finalise the application.

UOB said: "Eve has the ability to handle up to 1,800 applications per day and does it 3.5 times faster than others previously assigned this repetitive task."

Mr Lim Ann Liat, managing director and head of markets and enterprise technology under UOB's group technology and operations unit, said Amy and Eve represent "the dawn of a new virtual workforce in UOB".

UOB plans to employ more robots in the coming months to manage other processes relating to card operations, cash management, and trade and remittance.

OCBC Bank said it added two robots to its workforce last month.

One is assigned to the consumer secured lending team. It helps with housing loan repricing by processing more than 100 applications a day, and has enabled a 97 per cent cut in processing time. What used to take an employee more than 45 minutes to complete, from taking a customer's call to recommending him an appropriate loan repricing package, now takes the robot just one minute.

The other robot is in the finance team, helping with sales performance reporting, a task that was previously handled by a bank employee. OCBC said that while its staff used to spend 120 minutes preparing a report, the robot can do it in just 12 minutes.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2017, with the headline 'UOB's 'robots' slash data processing times'. Print Edition | Subscribe