OCBC bank tellers become digital ambassadors due to tech push

Maria Nikolova

As a new fleet of ATMs and digital service kiosks now performs transactions previously executed by bank tellers, OCBC Bank will move half its bank tellers into digital roles within the next two years.

Banks are increasingly retraining their staff as novel technologies reshape the labour market. Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. Limited (SGX:O39), or OCBC, is also introducing changes in response to the invasion of new financial technologies.

OCBC Bank has earlier this week unveiled its plans to convert bank tellers into digital ambassadors and service executives. OCBC Bank expects to see half of its bank tellers upskilled to perform higher value-added financial services as it installs the latest ATMs and digital service kiosks at 35 of its branches by 2020.

OCBC Bank has allocated $14 million for the deployment of the new ATMs and digital service kiosks in Singapore. These new machines function like “mini branches” and currently allow customers to perform 15 of the most frequent bank counter services such as cash deposits, cash withdrawals above daily ATM withdrawal limits, selecting the denomination of notes withdrawn, simultaneous cash and coin deposits, updating customers’ personal details and account and card related requests. These can be performed in a completely paperless and straight-through way.

Customers can now save up to 10 minutes when they make coin deposits compared to performing this transaction over the counter, while non-cash transactions like updating personal details take under five minutes at a digital service kiosk, versus an average of 15 minutes should the customer enter the branch seeking the help of a teller.

By 2019, the ATMs will be able to facilitate instant cheque cashing, enabling customers to simply scan their cash cheques at the ATM to receive the monetary value of their cheques immediately. The new ATMs will also be able to dispense up to $200,000 in cash in one transaction, in the customer’s preferred note denominations.

As part of a pilot, 15 digital ambassadors have been deployed to the branches where the new machines and digital service kiosks have been installed to help guide elderly customers in using the new machines. The role of digital ambassadors also ncludes certain functions previously performed by bank tellers. For transactions that require additional authentication, such as cash withdrawals above daily limits, a notification is sent to the mobile tablets that the digital ambassadors carry. The digital ambassadors approach the customer at the ATM, quickly verify his or her identity, and then approve the transaction using the tablet.

OCBC is known for its passion for novel technologies. In April this year, the bank announced the launch of AI-powered voice banking in partnership with Google.

Clients of the bank can now speak to the Google Assistant – on a smartphone or a Google Home device – to have a conversation about OCBC Bank’s services. For retirement planning, for example, a user can activate OCBC Bank’s service through the Google Assistant by saying: “Ok Google, talk to OCBC about retirement planning.” The Google Assistant will then reply to the user with leading questions to eventually calculate the retirement amount required. After the conversation with the Google Assistant is complete, an OCBC Bank customer service representative will follow up with the user on their retirement plans.

The Google Assistant complements other self-service digital channels such as AI-powered chatbot ‘Emma’, which was launched in 2017 and specializes in answering home and renovation loan queries on the OCBC Bank website in an intelligent, human-like way.

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