Singapore’s Second Largest Bank OCBC Establishes AI Lab

Singapore's Second Largest Bank OCBC Establishes AI Lab
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In a show of its commitment to artificial intelligence, Singapore’s OCBC Bank developed its AI unit by devoting an initial investment of S$10 million, equivalent to 7.6 million US dollars. As the first Singapore-based bank to create in-house artificial intelligence (AI) unit, OCBC Bank has commenced its operations with a pioneering team made of three data scientists and headed by Ken Wong.

Dubbed as AI Lab@TOV or rather AI Lab at The Open Vault, the unit’s mission entails spearheading the adoption of artificial intelligence across all the banking services of OCBC Bank. What’s more, the unit aims at doubling the team’s headcount in a year’s time including planning to train the bank’s technologists and data analysts about predictive machine learning and AI modeling.

On Wednesday (March 14), OCBC Bank made a statement regarding the purpose of the AI Lab @ TOV. It said the unit would provide greater value to the bank’s customers through giving them access to banking services by utilizing natural user interfaces, which are not only seamless but also convenient. In addition, the task will rely on tailored and targeted products and services that are contextually important and powered by machine learning.

AI Lab @The Open Vault sits within the OCBC’s Fintech and Innovation Group. According to OCBC Bank, the unit will act as a test unit for all new AI technologies. In fact, it will be used to showcase the feasibility of any new technology before being incorporated into the bank’s existing systems. By utilizing OCBC Bank ’s application program interfaces and data sandbox to test real-life unspecified customer data in a secure setting, AI Lab@ TOV aims at producing proof-of-concept that can be rapidly evaluated.

The creation of the AI unit does not mark OCBC Bank’s first venture into AI. Back in 2016, the bank launched Emma, an AI-powered chatbot, which has since then generated over S$100 million in home loans. Additionally, the bank’s venture with Thetaray, a cybersecurity company, saw it rely on AI to spot suspicious transactions.

According to Wong, the creation of OCBC’s own AI lab will help the bank to experiment with graphics processing units and deep learning neural networks for the first time. He added that most of these systems are mostly used in the gaming world and rarely in banking. Pranav Seth, the head of OCBC’s e-business, acknowledged the bank’s timely investment into AI in recognition of the technology’s impact on the entire banking industry.

Presently, AI Lab @ The Open Vault is experimenting with speech processing and natural language technologies by utilizing Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR’s) research. The unit aims at creating AI technology that can identify and comprehend local accents accurately, for instance, the Singaporean accent. According to OCBC Bank, if the technology is successful, it will be used to develop chatbot services that can utilize voice messaging to respond to clients. In addition, AI Lab @ TOV has also partnered with Amazon Web Services to create the world’s first ever deep learning video camera meant for developers.

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