Established in 1996, Orient Commercial Bank (OCB) is one of Vietnam’s largest banks with nearly 200 trading units in 132 transaction points across the country. The bank is recognised as an industry leader in the country’s financial landscape. In the past year, OCB’s efforts in digital transformation has been quite significant. In essence, the bank seeks to streamline its financial services and products from traditional channels to online channels. This means the bank will digitalise the customer journey from start to end.
In an interview with International Finance, Nguyen Thien Tam, Digital Strategy Director, OCB, spells out the bank’s recent efforts in digitising financial services to great length.
Why is digitisation of financial services important to OCB at this point?
Vietnam has a very high rate of the internet and smartphone penetration. According to the Digital 2020 report, internet penetration in Vietnam stood at 70 percent in January 2020 and it was mostly accessed by smartphones. Therefore, it is very important for OCB to bring the financial services online enabling customers to readily access them anytime, anywhere.
We started this journey in early 2018 and we have digitised more than 80 percent of the OCB’s financial products and services by July this year. In addition, we have introduced completely new online only services such as loyalty, referral, investment and payment reminders. As an increasing number of customers migrate to our OMNI platforms such as web and app, it is our mission to ensure we fully meet their financial needs and requests online without having to visit a branch. We continuously develop new online customer journeys and improve existing ones to improve customer experience and comfort.
How is OCB deepening digital experience for new-age customers in Vietnam’s financial industry?
The first step toward this goal is to build a solid foundation of financial services online where customers can carry out their day to day banking activities such as transfer, bill payments, account inquiry, shop and purchase. We have to ensure these basic services are easy to use, stable, fast and secure.
Secondly, we build a portfolio of different financial services that meet different needs of customers, such as safe and high interest rate term deposits, higher yield mutual funds, choice of many different credit cards, personal loans and different suits of insurance products.
Thirdly, we seek to appreciate our customers with OMNI Rewards — a loyalty programme for customers, OMNI care service to support customers, referral programme to help customers earn more extra cash for referring their friends to OCB and finally regularly carry out attractive promotional customer programs to reward customers for doing transaction with us. Finally, we try to understand our customers better by leveraging on different data points, engaging with customers regularly and providing them with relevant information on banking and offers.
Can you throw light on OCB Omni Digital Bank?
OCB OMNI is the digital banking business of the bank focusing on serving customers online. OCB OMNI is one of the leading digital banks in Vietnam focused on product offering, marketing campaigns and adoption of new technology in many different areas of business such as customer acquisition, sales, marketing, customer service and operations.
OCB OMNI is also growing to be one of the main channels to acquire new customers for the bank with about 30 percent of monthly new customers coming from online channels. More importantly, OCB OMNI is the main platform for customer engagement, allowing the bank to regularly communicate critical information to customers at very low cost and highly effectively.
Can you tell us about OCB Omni Digital Bank’s transformation last year? What are the implications of this transformation for the bank and customers?
1 year is not a long period but many digital transformation initiatives were implemented delivering business value to OCB. One of which was actively partnering with many local and international Fintech companies to POC and pilot many advanced technologies face recognition technology, OCR technology – reading data from customer records such as ID card, passport, driver’s license; face payment, social profile enrichment, customer, Ripple based cross border payments…
Another key milestone in the past year was that OCB had successfully deployed Open API platform, providing the basic banking services such as open new account, view account info, open new term deposit or register for a loan, credit card through partners’ platforms, making OCB a leading name in applying this future banking trending.
All these initiatives pave ways for OCB to access new business opportunities as well as higher capability in existing business functions. Likewise, our customers can benefit more from better products and solutions in terms of time, convenience, cost and higher value.
What are OCB’s digital transformation plans that will be executed in the next one or two years?
We define digital transformation as a non-stop mission — and we are aiming for it at a rapid speed. We will gradually transform areas of our banking system with an intent to help customers solve their problems online in a convenient manner. In the second half of 2020, we will introduce a myriad of new products such as international money payment, new investment and insurance products, in addition to applying for a debit, credit card or loan online. This means our customers can soon experience a wholly digitised end-to-end financial services on their smartphones with OCB OMNI application.
In the coming years, we will continue to cooperate with many partners and companies to expand our ecosystem.
That said, OCB is about to launch a nationwide Open API Challenge, inviting different players such as established and fintech startups, universities and tech solution companies to participate and work with us to develop or co-develop new, innovative solutions that solve customer problems and add higher value. We believe that through the challenge, we will find the leading partners to help us escalate our digitalisation journey. I am positive that our valued customers will continue to enjoy better products and services everyday.
Is OCB facing any challenges on the digitisation front? If so, how are they being addressed?
We are facing many challenges in our digitisation effort. The biggest one would be a regulatory framework where some important customer journeys or processes cannot be fully digitised without proper legal framework in place. In addition, there are also a few internal challenges such as legacy IT infrastructures, shortfall of digital talents and internal policy which are posing hurdles in the implementation of digital initiatives. Nevertheless, these challenges do not stop or slow down our transformation efforts.
To address the legal challenge, we work closely with the State Bank of Vietnam to stay updated of latest developments such as ekyc pilot, fintech sandbox and mobile money among others. In terms of internal challenge, the digital and IT teams are collaborating closely on all digital initiatives. With that, the implementation speed is much better. To address the talent shortfall, we provide a very open and innovative culture where ideas are freely shared and implemented, attracting and retaining young talents within the OCB OMNI team.
What is OCB’s role in digitising Vietnam’s financial industry at large?
As one of the leading banks in Vietnam, OCB plays an active role in promoting digital development of financial services as an effort for financial inclusion. We cooperate with leading ewallet companies to bring payment services to the underbanked segments. Further, we are very active in implementing new technology solutions in our product offering so that customers can access financial service products at low cost and convenience. We believe it is our responsibility as one of the players in the financial service industry to deliver financial services products to all customers across the country — and digital is the best means to do so. We will continue to pursue this responsibility and opportunity in the years to come.