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OCBC Bank launches postgraduate scholarship to deepen Artificial Intelligence talent pool

OCBC Bank launches postgraduate scholarship to deepen Artificial Intelligence talent pool

  • 03 Jun 2019

Singapore, 3 June 2019 – In an industry first, OCBC Bank has launched the postgraduate OCBC AI Scholarship in partnership with both the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), which will be open to applicants of either institution’s full-time master’s programme in Artificial Intelligence. 

Worth up to S$100,000 each, and fully covering all educational and living expenses, the scholarship is part of OCBC Bank’s digital strategic framework. The framework is designed to harness the potential of AI to deliver greater customer value and business scalability. 

For a start, three students will be awarded the scholarship this year.

After graduation, scholars will serve at the OCBC AI Lab for between 12 to 18 months – where they will participate in and contribute to the test-bedding, deploying and scaling-up of bank-wide AI solutions. During their studies, the scholars will have access to mentorship and guidance from the Bank’s senior executives and be given internship opportunities.


OCBC Bank’s initiative is the first AI scholarship to be offered by a Singapore company, and the first by any bank in Asia.


To secure it, applicants need to demonstrate a keen interest in AI, on top of excellent academic excellence and leadership qualities. They will also be put through different forms of assessments including a coding test where the applicants will be presented with a problem that must be solved within 24 hours.


OCBC Bank has doubled its pool of data scientists and data analysts over the past three years to about 200 today. Employees who are keen to pick up AI-related skills have more than 2,800 programmes to choose from. Over 1,800 employees have attended these programmes so far.


Mr Ken Wong, Head of AI Lab, OCBC Bank said: “We recognised the potential of AI early and have been accelerating our efforts in this space over the past five years. Our intent is to harness the technology as a strategic capability to bring even greater value to our customers and staff.


As we delve deeper in our AI journey, we are looking to attract and develop top talents to create new roads for us. Individuals who are passionately aligned with us in taking AI to the next level will be able to contribute meaningfully to help create new frontiers of banking.”


Delivering many firsts through AI 

OCBC Bank has made significant strides to serve customers better and augment its staff roles with the use of AI since 2016.


To date, more than 50 AI-driven solutions have been rolled out to benefit customers and employees. These include: 

  1. Since 2018, bank branch and contact centre staff have been leveraging AI to make personalised product recommendations to customers. The AI tool takes into the consideration the customers’ demographics and lifestyles. This has led to an increase of about S$10 million in monthly revenue.
  2. More than 10,000 employee HR-related enquiries have been instantly answered by a chatbot Buddy launched in 2017. These include queries on matters such as leave balance and medical benefits.

  3. Launched in 2017, AI-driven home and renovation loan specialist chatbot Emma has handled more than 150,000 enquiries, securing over S$185 million in home and renovation loans.


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OCBC Bank launches new postgraduate scholarship programme to deepen talent pool in AI.


OCBC Bank launches new postgraduate scholarship programme to deepen talent pool in AI.

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Sujin Thomas