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Singapore's virtual banks offer homegrown AI a chance to shine

17 Jul 2019 09:00

By Dong Shou

SENIOR Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), is right to hail new virtual bank licences expected to be granted later this year as the next chapter in Singapore's banking liberalisation journey. He also has good reason to be confident in the ability of local banks to compete with future digital upstarts.

While it is undoubtedly true that virtual banking will represent a new chapter in Singapore's journey as a world-class financial hub, it is also an important milestone in the city-state's ambitions to be a leading artificial intelligence (AI) hub. If the connection at first does not seem obvious, I can assure you it will become apparent upon closer inspection. Let me explain.

AI is playing an increasingly important role in global banking operations across areas such as Know Your Customer (KYC), anti-fraud, and credit scoring. For example, face-to-face identity verification is being replaced with AI-powered facial recognition technology. Small- and medium-sized businesses, which have historically been underserved, are among the biggest beneficiaries of AI as banks' costs are brought down and new customer segments are opened up.

AI is enabling blacklist databases to be cross-checked in an instant across multiple institutions and jurisdictions. Human error is being eradicated and fraud reduced in a region that has been hit the hardest. Credit scoring is moving beyond traditional data sets to include substantial amounts of alternative data that provide a fuller risk profile. AI is at the forefront of all of this.

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Source: Business Times

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