OCBC aims for innovations in wealth management as banks ramp up fintech drive

Office workers shelter themselves from the rain as they walk past the OCBC Centre at Raffles Place on Feb 24, 2016.
Office workers shelter themselves from the rain as they walk past the OCBC Centre at Raffles Place on Feb 24, 2016. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - OCBC wants to see its initiatives in the field of financial technologies leading to innovations that can help it improve the efficiency of its wealth management business.

This is one of the initial objectives that the bank has for The Open Vault, a new unit launched last month to foster partnerships between OCBC and fintech startups.

An accelerator programme launched under The Open Vault is seeking applications from fintech startups globally. The participants can test their solutions using OCBC's real-life but anonymous customer data.

"One area of innovation that we're particularly interested in is how to bring down the cost of wealth management, potentially through artificial intelligence that can help us understand customers better," OCBC e-business and business transformation head Pranav Seth said.

"If the industry can do that, then we can bring much better advice to a larger group of people at a lower cost. It's what I call the democratisation of wealth management services."

The programme will accept applications until March 17. Through the programme OCBC aims to become the first financial partner for fintech startups.

A competition to play a larger role in the fintech ecosystem is currently raging between the three local banks, with DBS and UOB also running their accelerator and incubation programmes in an industry-wide bid to innovate their products and service channels.

UOB, which already launched The FinLab joint venture in November, announced last week its tie-up with Israeli startup OurCrowd to provide equity crowdfunding.

DBS's fintech hackathons are also gaining traction across the region.

"The bank has organised more than 10 hackathons across Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan where more than 1,000 staff and start-ups have been paired together to work on ideas and solve real business problems. We also ran over 1,000 experiments and prototypes," a DBS spokesperson told The Straits Times.