Robots Bob and Zac help OCBC Bank with finance reports, loan application processing

Maria Nikolova

Zac is able to a generate sales report in just 12 minutes, whereas a human employee previously had to spend more than two hours completing the same task.

Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. Limited (SGX:O39), or OCBC, is taking another step towards embracing robotics process automation (RBA) by employing two robots – Bob and Zac.

The robots work at the Consumer Secured Lending and Finance teams within OCBC Bank’s consumer banking division. Bob helps to process housing loan restructuring applications while Zac is attached to the Finance team and helps to generate daily sales performance reports. Bob and Zac are second-generation robots born out of experimentation that started in 2015, when robots were first deployed to OCBC Bank’s Contact Centre.

The robots perform tasks which are repetitive and time-consuming, and do not require higher-level cognitive processing or decision-making. Staff previously involved in these tasks now perform higher-value activities or focus on delivering better and superior customer service.

The speed with which the robots are able to complete tasks previously handled by human staff has helped markedly bolster productivity for their teams. Processing time for home loans restructuring has been reduced by 97%, as Bob can process more than 100 housing loan restructuring applications a day. It takes Bob just one minute to complete one application, compared to a human who would require 45 minutes.

Zac is able to a generate sales report in just 12 minutes, whereas a human employee previously had to spend more than two hours completing the same task. With Zac’s help, the management team is now able to receive the report promptly at 9am daily, instead of at 4pm.

OCBC Bank’s management does not seem worried about human job losses as a result of the deployment of robots. Mr Pranav Seth, Head of E-Business, Business Transformation and Fintech and Innovation Group, OCBC Bank, said:

“The staff on the teams involved in the robot deployment were most excited to offload the repetitive parts of their jobs to the robots, to now be able to focus on meeting the expectations of customers and providing value-added services to them. The benefits of automation go beyond cost efficiency. The sales management team is now able to make quicker and better decisions as information and reports get to them early. Our staff are now more engaged in higher-value jobs, cognitive thinking and focused on being “more human” – applying the data and information received to making judgements and business decisions.”

OCBC is known for its flair for new fintech solutions. Earlier this month, OCBC unveiled a partnership with ThetaRay, an AI firm with offices in Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Singapore, in order to make its fight against illicit transactions more effective. The bank is extending its proof-of-concept testing with ThetaRay following early tests that showed that the ThetaRay’s technology was able to cut the number of alerts that did not require further review, by 35%.

The accuracy rate of identifying suspicious transactions was also improved thanks to a method of categorising more effectively the flagged transactions by their risk levels. The test was based on one year’s worth of OCBC corporate banking transaction data, with the data anonymised.

The bank aims to fully implement the new technology in the second quarter of next year.

In July this year, the bank announced collaborations with fintech companies BlackSwan Technologies and Silent Eight to develop and use a new AI-based solution to detect illegal financing operations. The product searches for information on individual profiles and maps suspicious transactions to see how they may be linked.

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