Side project now key growth driver for OCBC
It started out as a side project for a handful of employees who wanted to try building an app, but just five years on, the initiative has become a key growth driver for OCBC Bank.
Today, those four tech whizzes are the core of a larger entity, known as the group operations and technology division, that is confronting big questions about what a bank of the future looks like.
"It started very small," said senior vice-president of the division, Mr Praveen Raina.
"To be honest, we did not know how the apps would be received, but when we presented them to senior management, they were encouraging, so we started... building capabilities and growing the team."
Now, that group of four working on apps in their free time has grown into a team of 30 mobile developers that has rolled out a series of cutting-edge apps and enhancements to make life easier for OCBC customers and staff.
In May last year, the bank became the first in South-east Asia to launch an open API (application programming interface) platform, allowing third-party software developers to integrate its APIs - lines of code used to build software and applications - into their own apps.
In November last year, OCBC also became the first bank in South-east Asia to use blockchain technology in its local and cross-border payment funds transfer services, making them more secure and slashing the time needed from over a day to under five minutes.
These days, Mr Raina is preoccupied with thoughts of what the bank of the future will look like. His vision is that data will be more important than ever.
"We are working with organisations outside banking to see how we can leverage each other's capabilities to strengthen each other," he said.