OCBC Bank, StarHub team up to innovate

StarHub chief executive Tan Tong Hai (left) with OCBC chief operating officer Ching Wei Hong. The firms believe collaboration between different industries is a way to beat the competition. OCBC's orchardgateway branch combines its financial services
StarHub chief executive Tan Tong Hai (left) with OCBC chief operating officer Ching Wei Hong. The firms believe collaboration between different industries is a way to beat the competition. OCBC's orchardgateway branch combines its financial services and StarHub's infocommunications and entertainment services.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Partnership includes 'store-in-store' outlets and $6 million investment in areas such as AI

A new partnership between OCBC Bank and StarHub could mean customers can pick up new phones or pay-TV packages while doing their banking, either in a branch or online.

The two companies, which unveiled a new $6 million investment over 12 months in research and technology yesterday, reckon collaboration between different industries is one way of beating the competition.

Their new initiative includes investing in artificial intelligence and hiring specialists.

OCBC group chief executive Samuel Tsien said teaming up "is the beginning and a part of a multi-year plan" towards what is called the We Economy, where businesses break out of "conventional industry silos" and move "into a network of collective partnerships".

The firms are already seeking more partners to link up with in similar arrangements.

StarHub chief executive Tan Tong Hai said they could be from industries including transport, retail and real estate.

Mr Tsien was speaking at the opening of the first store-in-store set up as part of the collaboration.

The outlet at OCBC's orchardgateway branch is a one-stop shop combining OCBC's financial services and StarHub's catalogue of infocommunications and entertainment services.

It will be expanded in stages to cover more OCBC branches or StarHub outlets.

OCBC chief operating officer Ching Wei Hong said at a briefing later: "Discussions with (more) partners are already under way, such as with a medical services group, and it's now a matter of focus, to make sure we have useful services."

OCBC and StarHub will collect data to deliver more relevant services and offers to a combined customer base of more than five million.

Mr Tan added that telcos have a lot of data but that is "useless if we do not look at segment needs". "This is where the analysis of big data comes in, where we can discover the unknown."

Besides studying the Internet of Things, "one of the extensions of our fintech unit is forming the artificial intelligence unit and also investing in talent, and we also want to work with StarHub on building a lab", noted Mr Ching.

Customers can also expect perks such as rebates.

For instance, current and new customers of the two firms can sign up at www.innovatingtogether.sg for an additional 3 per cent rebate on StarHub bills for 12 months.

The rebate of up to $5 per month will be credited into customers' OCBC accounts.

There have been tie-ups between large firms before. Singtel and Standard Chartered Bank released payment app Dash together in 2014.

As Mr Tan noted: "Every industry is facing different forms of disruption and each industry is moving beyond core business by also looking at how to service the customer in terms of meeting needs in an integrated manner.

"Clearly, StarHub does not want to be a bank; I'd rather work with a bank, and we understand our domains well."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2017, with the headline 'OCBC Bank, StarHub team up to innovate'. Print Edition | Subscribe