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OCBC pilots new fintech solutions as banking tech race intensifies

SINGAPORE -- In its race to gain an edge over other domestic banks in financial technology, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp., Singapore's second-largest lender, is working with three startups to launch new solutions for its wealth management and home loans services.

OCBC will launch Fincast, a portfolio tool for financial advisers to manage customers' investment portfolios. Financial advisers can use the software to recommend products to customers, based on their investment goals. OCBC will pilot Fincast at its Premier Banking branches for up to 100 selected customers over a three-month period.

The second wealth management tool it is testing out is BondIT. This software can provide investment recommendations in 90 seconds, compared to traditional bond portfolio analysis which can take up to two days.

OCBC is also building up its strength in artificial intelligence to deliver more efficient services. It will pilot CogniCor, which provides virtual customer assistance to those interested in OCBC's home loans. Customers can receive real-time responses to enquiries delivered through an instant messaging chat box directly on the OCBC Bank website.

The pilot tests will last for three months and begin in the fourth quarter this year.

The three start-ups were selected from the Open Vault at OCBC, a incubator program where startups are chosen to work with OCBC experts to create new banking solutions. Since its launch, Open Vault at OCBC has engaged over 200 fintech companies with a community of over 700 members.

Samuel Tsien, chief executive of OCBC, stressed the importance of fintech in the banking industry. "Technology has now taken a dominant role in all industries, including banking," said Tsien. He added that banks can "no longer rely on trust and brand loyalty alone." To remain competitive and relevant, banks would have to move past "old working models and accelerate [their] innovation pace."

Singapore banks have been ramping up efforts in their competition to deliver the latest fintech services. OCBC's close rival DBS launched the "digibank by DBS" mobile app in India early this year, which allows users to open an online account. A bank card is then sent to them for withdrawals and deposits. DBS plans to launch the service in Indonesia and gradually roll it out to China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

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