Unlike traditional business units, OCBC’s Open Vault functions like a startup. The idea is to sprint like a startup and work in an environment that thrives on adrenaline. OCBC has been running constant experiments which has proven profitable together with counting failure as learning points for their success. OCBC is constantly striving to innovate and improve organisational agility. In this interview, Altona Widjaja, Vice President Fintech and Innovation Group, OCBC Bank shares his insights on what makes OCBC’s Open Vault initiative a great success for reimagining banking.
1) Tell us a little about yourself and your role at OCBC.
I am always passionate about technology and challenging status quo. I joined OCBC over 10 year ago in the technology unit from there I held wide portfolios ranging from Treasury system analyst to project delivery manager. I led the Project Management Office in Indonesia operations that delivered multiple projects from technology deployment to retail banking management and also took a role as Senior Program Manager in Group COO Office to oversee strategic projects in OCBC Bank. Today I run The Open Vault, the Fintech and Innovation arm of OCBC Group. I oversee the development of the Fintech acceleration program, Fintech solution development and Innovation culture building for OCBC Group. So far we have built key enablers for experimentation/innovation process in OCBC Group, build the data sandbox platform, drive projects in area of KYC, AML, Trade finance, Blockchain and Machine learning
2) Can you tell us a little more about the OCBC Vault initiative? How do you plan to sustain and scale it?
As mentioned above, we focus in being an enabler for anyone to bring their ideas to life, it can be someone from the bank or a startup from the ecosystem proposing how to collaborate together with the bank. We help them to conduct experiment using actual data when proven successful we will help to create underlying process to integrate the solution to the bank itself. For the past year we have been focussing to create key enabler to ensure that the some experiment categories can be done in a self-serve manner e.g. through our data sandbox, partner can get access to our API to conduct analytics projects
3) What are your views on the health of the fintech startup ecosystem in Singapore? What is holding it back from more rapid growth?
I think we have a very supportive government that have invested in the past year to grow the ecosystem. One key element that we need to look at is in the area of education, because an familiarity and understanding of Fintech is required, and I know most of the institute of higher learning (IHL) have started to look at this particular area by offering course in fintech and we at OCBC have also been collaborating with various IHL to support them in such program.
But more than that an open, non-cookie cutter approach to problem solving and risk taking culture is required for the ecosystem to have rapid growth.
4) Do you see fintech as fundamentally competitive or fundamentally complimentary to the role played by traditional banks like OCBC?
It really depends on the segment of customer we are talking about, for the underbank I believe some of the fintech players would be competitive. But for the most part I believe that fintech will be complimentary to the bank, and it’s not just to complement the bank’s service but could potentially shape how banks will look like in the future e.g. how biometrics authentication can replace today’s method of authentication.
5) Can you share examples of some of the activities that you’ve planned and executed at the OCBC Vault? How has this benefited OCBC?
We have successfully launch our virtual agent for mortgage and a couple of initiative in the area of digital wealth advisory. There are also a couple of initiative in the area of compliance, payments, trade financing etc. There has been good traction in those platform launched to the market from our customers. For us, the key is to get higher customer satisfaction and delivery solution that can help our customer needs.
6) Recently, there has been an increase in fintech accelerator programmes across different banks. How are you managing the fight for the same talent? How has OCBC innovated to manage this?
At OCBC we have always been focussing to be the participants 1st commercial partner and having a platform for them to do quick experimentation. Moreover we do not take any stake in the startup and focus in getting global firm to participate in our program.
7) Can you give us an idea on what you’ll be sharing at Seamless Asia and why are you excited to be a part of the show?
Am pleased to be able to share at seamless about how our platform has enabled innovation within OCBC and partnership formed with fintech firm that has been delivered to our customers in such short period in OCBC.
In his talk at Seamless Asia, Widjaja will share more on “Playing in the sandbox: a review of emerging “distruptor friendly” regulation in Asia.
Its going to be two days of exciting content. Make sure you are a part of it! Join more than 200 other e-commerce, retail and payments professionals speaking at Seamless Asia. For more information, download our brochure here, or go right ahead and register here.
See you there!