OCBC puts $10m into in-house AI unit

OCBC Bank has set up an in-house unit to develop artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, with an initial investment of $10 million over three years.

AI Lab@TOV, which operates under OCBC's fintech and innovation group, aims to drive the adoption of AI across banking services such as wealth advisory and loans financing, the bank said yesterday. It will be headed by Mr Ken Wong - who heads the bank's analytics department - and consists of a trio of data scientists. The team aims to double its headcount within a year.

In the past two years, OCBC has used AI in its operations. It launched the AI-powered chatbot "Emma" in 2016, which was developed by start-up CogniCor to respond to customers' queries on home and renovation loans. Last year, OCBC partnered fintech firm ThetaRay to use its AI solution to identify potential suspicious transactions.

The AI solution has cut the volume of transactions reviewed by anti-money laundering compliance analysts by 35 per cent, and raised the accuracy rate of identifying suspicious transactions by more than four times, OCBC said. Mr Wong noted: "With the set-up of our very own AI lab, we are able to experiment for the first time with deep learning neural networks and graphics processing units, which are heavily used in the gaming industry and hardly used in banking."

OCBC head of e-business, business transformation and fintech and innovation group Pranav Seth says there is a huge competitive advantage to be gained from being a first mover in AI space.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2018, with the headline 'OCBC puts $10m into in-house AI unit'. Print Edition | Subscribe