SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) – OCBC Bank now allows customers to immediately encash their cash cheques at all its next-generation ATMs across 23 branches, for a maximum of $30,000 in a single cheque.
Since the service started in February, the next-generation ATMs have already processed cheque encashments totalling close to $17 million.
The average cheque encashment transaction time has been reduced to under three minutes at the ATM, as customers can save about 60 per cent of their time compared to waiting to be served at a branch. All the necessary security checks and verifications are performed by branch service staff known as digital ambassadors on mobile tablets in real-time.
This capability enables the next-generation ATMs to process 90 per cent of all the cheques usually encashed at OCBC Bank branch teller counters.
This move comes alongside the bank’s continued push for a cheque-free Singapore by 2025, nudging customers to transact digitally instead of using cheques.
Even as cheque usage by OCBC Bank’s retail banking customers has fallen 40 per cent since 2018, one in six cash transactions performed by OCBC Bank tellers over the counter are still cash cheque encashments. The majority of these cheques are issued by SMEs, typically to pay staff salaries, get cash for daily business operations or pay vendors for services rendered.
As part of OCBC’s drive to go digital, one in three of all over-the-counter branch consumer transactions has been migrated to its next-generation ATMs that were launched in May 2018.
According to the bank, they function like “mini branches”, enabling customers to complete 80 per cent of the most frequently requested over-the-counter services without having to wait in line at a branch.
These transactions include cash deposits, cash withdrawals above daily ATM withdrawal limits, simultaneous cash and coin deposits, updating customers’ personal details and account- and card-related requests.
In line with these developments, OCBC Bank has reskilled and upskilled its branch service staff so that one in four are now digitally trained to perform roles as digital ambassadors. All digital ambassadors – 20 per cent are in their 40s and 50s – undergo an “intensive training programme” before taking on the role. They use mobile tablets to verify OCBC Bank customers’ identities and assist them in their transactions on next-generation ATMs.
Sunny Quek, OCBC Bank’s head of consumer financial services Singapore, said: “As we continue to push Singapore’s cashless and cheque-less agenda, we are also accelerating our pace of digital transformation by continually upskilling our branch staff to take on digital roles.”
He noted the bank recognised that there are still segments of customers who require services like cheque encashments as it takes up a significant amount of time for a customer and counter teller staff just to fulfil a single such transaction, which is now addressed by their cheque encashment service on ATMs.
“At the same time, our staff are happy that they are able to do more value-added services than voluminous and repetitive over-the-counter tasks,” Mr Quek added.
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