OCBC Bank's Open Vault paves the way for startup pilots

OCBC Bank's Open Vault paves the way for startup pilots

Singapore's OCBC Bank has partnered with two graduates from its startup accelerator programme to apply artificial intelligence technology to counter money laundering.

The two companies - BlackSwan Technologies and Silent Eight - were part of the second Fintech Accelerator Programme run by OCBC Bank’s innovation unit, The Open Vault.

Taken together, the startups automate the process of researching customer profiles and analysing suspicious transaction flows between counterparties. At OCBC, this work is currently carried out manually by an internal compliance analyst, with the total time required lasting between one hour and a few days.

The bank says that the application of AI tools speeds things up significantly - for instance, the “desktop” component of the research can be reduced from one hour to just one minute - and can "increase the overall productivity of an analyst by 100%".

While Silent Eight helps to automate the desktop research process by compiling a 'dossier' on suspicious individuals, BlackSwan takes care of the suspicious transactions, mapping them to a network of related transactions to identify possible connections with other individuals or companies which may be atypical or previously unknown.

Alex Ng, head of the bank's group transaction surveillance unit that led the pilot says: “We saw great potential in these two fintech start-ups. The Open Vault at OCBC Fintech Accelerator Programme gave us the opportunity to work closely with the fintechs during a short burst of three months, to experiment by providing them with anonymised real data to see how the solutions can meet our needs. We were not disappointed.”

Besides the test runs with Silent Eight and BlackSwan Technologies, OCBC Bank also completed pilots with four other fintech start-ups in the accelerator programme, including the use of AI for life insurance purposes and in consumer marketing, and the creation of SME dashboards and smart financing tools.

Pranav Seth, OCBC Bank’s head of e-business, comments: “The Open Vault at OCBC continues to focus on bringing the bank and the external fintech ecosystem together. This year, we deliberately kept our focus narrow, addressing specific customer needs and business areas. Testing the various technologies using real customer data enables us to deliberate more effectively on how to bring these solutions to market to benefit our customers and strengthen our internal capabilities.”

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