OCBC enters fintech arena with Open Vault

People walking outside the OCBC Bank Centre.
People walking outside the OCBC Bank Centre.PHOTO: ST FILE

OCBC has started a new unit to drive its partnership with financial technology start-ups to help it capitalise on innovative systems that are being developed.

The Open Vault at OCBC, as the unit is known, will bring in fintech start-ups to use the bank's database and interfaces to test and develop new ideas into solutions. It will focus on wealth management, credit and financing, insurance, cyber security and artificial intelligence.

OCBC will own any new solutions emerging from The Open Vault.

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

Fintech start-ups have managed to disrupt aspects of the financial services industry, raising the question of whether big banks are nimble enough to adapt. Increasingly, the strategies have switched from competition to partnership, a point highlighted by OCBC chief executive Samuel Tsien yesterday.

"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," he said. "Our key focus is to deliver outcomes and value; without this, we would not want to play in the fintech arena."

Meanwhile, OCBC is partnering start-up incubation firm Nest to run its accelerator programme. The programme will provide selected start-ups with business and technical expertise mentorship.

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

Its efforts are being matched by local competitors.

DBS has partnered with A*Star and IBM for multiple research lab projects. Over 1,000 digital solution experiments and prototype tests were run by the bank last year.

United Overseas Bank has spent about $100 million in recent years on digital investments, and $100 million more will be invested, chief executive Wee Ee Cheong said last August. In November, the bank launched Mighty to integrate all banking and payment services under one app.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2016, with the headline 'OCBC enters fintech arena with Open Vault'. Subscribe