Singapore bank OCBC joins fintech boom with startup incubator

By Michael Tegos for TechinAsia

Fintech startups in Singapore now have one more place to turn to for help in developing their ideas and seeking funding and partnerships: Singaporean bank OCBC today announced its new fintech “innovation center,” called The Open Vault at OCBC.

It aims to find fintech startups and help them make products and services that the bank can add to its digital banking arsenal or bring to the market.

Open Vault is interested in five areas: wealth management, credit and financing, insurance, cyber security, and artificial intelligence – particularly in regard to data analysis and automated advisory services. Applications through the website are open until March 17, while the program will start in April. An incubator-style demo day will take place in July, when startups will pitch their ideas and business plans to potential investors.

The Open Vault will be interested in wealth management, credit and financing, insurance, cyber security, and artificial intelligence.

The center will be housed in a dedicated 2,400-square-foot space located on Singapore’s New Bridge Road. OCBC will make available experts from throughout the organization, including programmers and app developers, data analytics experts, credit risk managers, and legal advisors. They will help the startups with the nuts and bolts and the specialized challenges of their respective departments, and navigate them through the treacherous alleyways of banking regulations.

The Open Vault is led by OCBC’s head of e-business and business transformation, Pranav Seth. “We are investing heavily in the areas of mobile, data and analytics, biometrics, and security to provide superior customer-centric solutions,” he says in a statement.

The center has partnered with venture capital firm Nest, which helps run corporate-backed startup acceleration programs.

With this move, OCBC joins a growing number of major banks that are investing in fintech startups to develop innovative services and products for them. Singaporean bank DBS, for example, has also partnered with Nest for its own fintech accelerator. Fintech startups, on the other hand, can use the funding but even more importantly, the support and expertise of the banks to get through regulatory and financial policy hurdles.

While fintech started out as a disruption to the big financial institutions, it seems that, increasingly, it’s going for a symbiotic relationship with them.

Photo credit: OCBC

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