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Three global banks open innovation labs in Singapore

Three global banks on Wednesday launched their respective innovation labs in Singapore on the week of the Singapore FinTech Festival.

Bank of China opened its first global fintech innovation lab in Singapore to spearhead its worldwide research and development (R&D) activities as well showcase its latest technologies. The BOC Innovation Lab (Singapore) will also showcase artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, big data and cloud technologies. The facility housed in BOC Building in Battery Road is staffed by a robotic customer service officer, which can quickly identify individual clients and recall their preferences with its facial recognition capabilities. 

Australia's Westpac has also opened its Asia innovation hub, Westpac co.lab, in Singapore. This will be used as a launchpad for Australian fintechs to tap on Asia’s "leading positioning" as a fintech hub, the bank said. Westpac will work with fintechs to develop expertise in areas such as regtech, data analytics, AI, and payments. Westpac’s co.lab in Singapore is Westpac’s fourth innovation lab globally.

In a press statement, Michael Correa, Westpac's general manager, Asia-Pacific said: “We’re seeing an exciting dynamic where more Australian fintechs are looking for opportunities to enter or expand in Asia. Westpac’s co.lab is poised to leverage Singapore’s vibrant fintech ecosystem and leading regulatory landscape, as well as the incredible pool of talent as it looks to develop the city as a smart financial centre."

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Deutsche Bank joined its banking peers in launching its first Asia-Pacific innovation lab in Singapore, and will develop ideas with startups for its wealth management business. Speaking to The Business Times ahead of the launch, Deutsche Bank's Asia-Pacific chief executive officer, Werner Steinmueller, said the move speaks to the new openness that banks have to adopt amid the competition and changing demands.

“There is a new openness in banking where you have to take everyone seriously and move fast," he said.

He added that Asia is proving to be fertile ground for talented startups. "We are very excited about the potential for partnerships here," he said. “Startups want to work with us because we have scale, a global banking network and established infrastructure."

The bank has other innovation labs in Berlin, London, New York and Palo Alto. Singapore's innovation lab is the first of the labs at Deutsche Bank that will be housed within the bank itself.