OCBC steps into metaverse, first Singapore bank to offer virtual banking experience

OCBCx65Chulia is open for free to the public and will allow users to learn more about the bank’s latest products and services. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - OCBC Bank officially launched its metaverse platform on Wednesday to reach out to a larger and younger target group, becoming the first local bank to offer a virtual banking experience.

Occupying nine plots of virtual land, OCBCx65Chulia – named after the location of the bank’s headquarters – is open for free to the public, including non-OCBC customers, and will allow users to learn more about the bank’s latest products and services.

Housed in a red sphere inspired by OCBC’s logo is a virtual banking lobby and heritage museum, as well as the various games that the bank plans to roll out later this year.

The platform gives users quick access to the bank’s website where they can make use of services such as opening a bank account or applying for a credit card.

Users can also learn more about the bank’s various locations around the world.

Mr Peter Koh, head of group technology architecture, described the space as an additional touchpoint to help the bank reach out to a younger audience. He said the bank hopes that the metaverse can serve as a bridge between the virtual and physical world to help make banking more accessible.

“Many have doubted the purpose of the metaverse. Though a nascent and evolving space that we are still working to understand, the metaverse remains one of the newer ways to make a connection. We are ready to tap these (platforms), as they emerge, to reach a larger audience. ”

OCBCx65Chulia can be accessed through Decentraland, which is a browser-based platform. Users can sign in as guests at play.decentraland.org and access OCBCx65Chulia.

First conceived in November 2021, the platform has been a work in progress for the bank over the past two years, and has been through 43 iterations.

The next phase of the project, which will include games to help users learn more about the bank and personal finance, is estimated to be ready by the third quarter of this year.

The metaverse has been hailed as the future Internet, allowing users to interact with one another and the virtual world through avatars, and buy land or goods using digital currencies.

Launched in 2020, Decentraland is a popular metaverse, which offers land parcels that can be bought with cryptocurrency and used to set up virtual environments.

OCBC assistant manager of Group Operations and Technology Er Hwa Ming (second left) giving a demonstration of OCBCx65Chulia. With him is (from left) OCBC Group Operations and Technology’s vice-president Malie Foo, associate Alena Lim Lui Wei and head of group technology architecture Peter Koh. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

OCBC Bank’s foray into the metaverse comes as other banks are also making their presence felt in the virtual world.

In September 2022, DBS announced its plans to launch DBS BetterWorld – allowing users to experience building a better, more sustainable world – with The Sandbox, a virtual gaming world based on Ethereum, a decentralised blockchain-based software platform.

In November 2022, UOB also planted its flag in the metaverse, with the launch of a virtual art gallery. SkyArtVerse by UOB is a futuristic gallery that is also based in Decentraland, and is an immersive art theme park featuring the 37 winning artworks from the 2022 UOB Painting of the Year competition.

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