Business

United Overseas Bank employing two 'virtual employees'

Data processing times cut by more than half

United Overseas Bank (UOB) is employing two robot-like "virtual employees" as they are termed - to tackle tasks its human employees find too boring.

The bank said yesterday that the "robots", Amy and Eve, are slashing the time taken on such repetitive and time-consuming jobs as data processing.

It is understood that Amy and Eve are not physical robots, but programmes using Robotics Process Automation software that execute "the more mundane data entry tasks".

They were assigned to teams supporting the wholesale banking and retail businesses about three weeks ago.

A UOB spokesman said: "The speed and accuracy at which robots such as Amy and Eve can process such transactions enables us to respond faster to our customers in the long run. The introduction of robots into our workforce also enables us to improve our process through tech while maintaining a human touch."

Amy and Eve have already reduced data processing times by more than half and allowed human employees to focus on more stimulating and challenging jobs, said UOB.

Amy helps to process requests for Letters of Credit by the bank's corporate customers. She extracts a wide range of data and then enters it into the system for approval by a human colleague.

UOB said: "What used to take up to 240 seconds, 12 screens and multiple cross-checking for accuracy takes Amy only 40 seconds to complete."

Eve's strength is in mathematics. "She" reviews credit card applications, a process that involves combing through a customer's Central Provident Fund statement to compute their annual income.

The information is provided to her human colleagues, who then finalise the application.

UOB said: "Eve has the ability to handle up to 1,800 applications per day and does it 3.5 times faster than others previously assigned this repetitive task."

Mr Lim Ann Liat, managing director and head of markets and enterprise technology under UOB's group technology and operations unit, said Amy and Eve represent "the dawn of a new virtual workforce in UOB".

UOB plans to employ more robots in the coming months to manage other processes relating to card operations, cash management and trade and remittance.

OCBC Bank said it added two robots to its workforce last month. Neither have names.

One is assigned to the consumer secured lending team. It helps with housing loan re-pricing by processing more than 100 applications a day.

The other robot is at the finance team, helping with sales performance reporting.

OCBC said that while its staff used to spend 120 minutes preparing a report, the robot can do it in just 12 minutes. - THE STRAITS TIMES

BUSINESS & FINANCE