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OCBC first Singaporean bank to allow foreigners to open digital accounts

Felicia Tan
Felicia Tan • 3 min read
OCBC first Singaporean bank to allow foreigners to open digital accounts
The service is open to Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Hong Kong biometric passport holders. Photo: Bloomberg
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Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) has launched a fully digital account-opening service for consumers in its key markets who are relocating to Singapore.

On June 22, the bank announced that individuals from Malaysia, Indonesia, mainland China and Hong Kong will be able to open Singapore dollar (SGD) and multi-currency accounts on the OCBC O39 -

Digital app remotely and within minutes. This is compared to the usual timeline of taking days or weeks to open a bank account by visiting a physical branch.

The process will speed up these individuals’ relocation process as setting up a bank account requires two other key administrative arrangements, which are salary crediting and the securing of accommodation.

To fully digitalise this process, OCBC has leveraged artificial intelligence, data analytics, biometrics, blockchain and cloud technologies from OneConnect Financial Technology, an associate company of Ping An Group. These technologies have been integrated with OCBC’s proprietary digital know-your-customer process (e-KYC).

The launch of the service comes at a time when more foreigners are coming to Singapore to work, study and live. According to the Singapore Department of Statistics (SingStat), this segment grew by 6.6% from 2021 to 2022.

As borders reopen post-pandemic and given Singapore’s strong infrastructure and status as a financial hub, this growth is likely to continue, says OCBC.

See also: OCBC expands programme to equip another 10,000 elderly with digital banking skills and scam prevention awareness

Consequently, OCBC expects the monthly average of foreigners who open an OCBC Singapore bank account in 2024 to be four times that of 2022.

Upon opening a Singapore bank account with OCBC, the app’s features including its wealth management services, international remittances, unit trusts, equities trading and so on, will be available to the bank’s foreign customers.

According to OCBC, such digital wealth management services are sought after, with OCBC’s foreign customers in Singapore who have started investing through the OCBC Digital app increasing four-fold from 2020. The total amounts invested have increased close to seven times in this same time frame.

See also: OCBC launches accelerated banking career programme for 500 polytechnic students over next three years

“As more individuals relocate to Singapore to live, work and study, there has been a corresponding increase in demand for banking services. Our digital onboarding capability on the OCBC Digital app brings greater convenience to such consumers as it enables them to set up their Singapore bank accounts remotely, without having to physically visit a bank branch in Singapore. By providing them with a seamless and secure way to open an OCBC account, we hope that they will be able to get settled and integrate into Singapore life more quickly,” says Sunny Quek, OCBC’s head of global consumer financial services.

Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Hong Kong biometric passport holders who plan to relocate to Singapore just need to download the Singapore version of OCBC’s app, which is available on the Apple app store and Google Play store.

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