Friday, 14 June 2024

OCBC bolsters transaction banking digital capabilities to support businesses across region

5 min read

To support the needs of small and large businesses in ASEAN and Greater China, OCBC continues to expand banking solutions and invest in digital capabilities

  • Emerging opportunities call for investment into regional expansion
  • Customer-centric digital solutions for businesses and community
  • Supporting customers’ cross-border initiatives and business requirements

The disruption caused by COVID-19 was a significant and positive driver behind the digitalisation of business operations for both multinational corporations and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Beyond productivity and process enhancements, digitalisation has created a slew of new opportunities. These include multiple revenue channels, access to new market segments and customer bases, alternate supply sources, and opened up the immense potential of data.

Digital approaches in business have enabled real-time and accurate decision-making, providing greater insight into broader customer segmentation, enhanced customer experience, and cost drivers throughout supply chains.

Emerging opportunities call for investment into regional expansion

OCBC has been acquiring and deepening its relationships with SMEs in the region, and its digital innovations have considerably expanded services for small businesses. OCBC was the first bank in Singapore to launch a Business Financial Management tool for SMEs on its Business Mobile Banking app, providing personalised data-driven insights on sales, expenses and cashflow analysis, and e-invoicing, to help small businesses raise productivity and focus on business. The process avoids manual data entry and calculations, rooting out the incidence of human error.

Melvyn Low, head of global transaction banking at OCBC explained: “Our business banking app has morphed into a comprehensive app for everyday use that lets the SME business owner run the business from morning to night, be it making payments, looking at inflows and outflows from major suppliers or receiving alerts about cash flow.”

Customer-centric digital solutions for businesses and community

To help small businesses collect payments digitally, the bank launched the OCBC OneCollect app in Singapore and Malaysia that can capture QR code payments easily via a mobile phone.

It also is the first and only bank in Singapore to implement digital passport authentication for faster electronic know-your-customer processes. The new-age digital economy solution caters to foreign business owners of small businesses incorporated in Singapore. The digital passport authentication feature allows customers to verify their personal details both

securely and remotely, facilitating swift and secure business transactions. It also eliminates the need to physically mail notarised documents or visit a bank branch to verify personal details.

Low said: “While the passport identification is not new, the way that we have deployed it remotely into the use case—to open an account in Singapore—eliminates the need to verify physical documents. By doing this, the OCBC philosophy of ‘doing the right things, giving the right advice and developing the right solutions’ is built into the mobile app.”

In addition to enhancements to its OCBC Velocity business banking digital platform, the bank continues to achieve significant momentum in streamlining and simplifying the application processes for banker’s guarantees (BG) for many Singapore government agencies. OCBC has streamlined customer journeys for frequently-issued guarantee types and now transmits BG documents electronically to over 17 government agencies, including Singapore Customs, Land Transport Authority, and the Housing Development Board. The end-to-end electronic process for BG issuance eliminates paper-based processes for faster turnaround. The application takes less than three minutes and can be performed in under four clicks, and reduces the risk of guarantee loss during transit.

Supporting customers’ cross-border business requirements

Leveraging network and trade finance solutions has been key in supporting customers’ cross-border business opportunities and emerging requirements. To address the complexities in regional expansion, the bank’s network trade initiatives continue to facilitate customers’ cross-border transaction journeys.

For instance, its network and Partner Bank Programme in 81 countries issue BGs and standby letters of credit on behalf of customers to their beneficiaries across the region and globally. Its regional trade hubs in Hong Kong and Singapore provide deeper integration of trade finance functions into cross-border trade flows.

It has also created value for its customers through embedded financing by establishing partnerships with trade platforms, connecting SMEs to anchor buyers and e-procurement platforms. Using a data-driven approach, it launched platform invoice financing for customers across Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, making it easier for them to access financing by accepting invoice data from the platform and removing the need for heavy documentation in trade financing.

The supply chain reconfiguration in the aftermath of the pandemic and geopolitical conflicts have pushed companies to re-examine their supply chain concentration risks and given rise to the ‘China+1’ supply chain diversification strategy. This has driven, and will continue to drive, regional integration and business flows, especially between the core markets of Greater China and ASEAN.

To capitalise on these opportunities and further bolster its transaction banking capabilities in Greater China, the bank plans to invest over SGD 50 million ($37.5 million) over the next three years. The bank’s accelerated investment strengthens its position as a core banking partner in ASEAN, particularly for Chinese corporates expanding into the region.

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