Best trading platform for retail: OCBC Bank

Business, innovations and modern trends: computer-aided manufacturing
Asia FX Awards 2024-BB8

OCBC Bank has diversified its FX offering with more currencies and 24/7 trading to meet the increasingly sophisticated needs of retail and small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) clients

FX Online is OCBC Bank’s single FX platform for all things foreign exchange. It’s noteworthy among FX platforms in that it caters to all customer categories under one roof. Retail clients rub shoulders with large corporates and institutions, giving each of these segments access to a wide range of sophisticated FX products and services.

Unlike many of its FX competitor banks worldwide, OCBC actively caters to the SME and retail segments of the FX market, which are important in its wider banking franchise. As such, the bank sees FX and cross-border payments as vital and complementary to customers’ day-to-day financial services. It has therefore built a suite of personalised tools to meet the evolving needs of retail customers and SMEs.

Gerard Tan, OCBC Bank
Gerard Tan, OCBC Bank

“We are very conscious of the franchise that OCBC represents as a bank,” explains Gerard Tan, head of digital sales, analytics and marketing at OCBC’s Global Markets division. “In the Asia-Pacific markets, we have financial institutions, large corporates, SMEs and retail customers in our four key markets of Singapore, Malaysia, Greater China and Indonesia. With sizeable retail and SME customers in these markets, it would be rather myopic if OCBC did not focus on these two segments for FX as well. This is why we spend as much time as we do to target and engage them with the appropriate and corresponding strategies, including FX.”

While SME and retail customers may traditionally be considered less sophisticated, Tan points out that many have become increasingly savvy and are consuming higher-end types of products. This, he says, is because some would either have been educated in how FX markets work or exposed to it in the course of their professional careers.

The challenge here, highlights Tan, is how to meet the expectations of its various customer segments and reflect it in a simple and convenient package. To provide a customer-centric and personalised offering, OCBC has developed a wide range of products and services from which all customers can choose according to their needs and levels of sophistication.   

To this end, OCBC continually expands the scope of its FX offering. In 2023, it took the unprecedented step of extending the traditional 24/5 FX trading environment to one where pricing and execution are available 24/7, well beyond the usual trading hours of FX markets worldwide.

To minimise the risks associated with out-of-hours FX trading, Tan explains that OCBC works closely with its trading counterparts to identify all mitigating factors. “We draw heavily on artificial intelligence [AI] and machine learning tools to identify customer trends, market movements and volumes to push the best price for customers. We offer this service because we have shown we are able to manage the risk very efficiently.”

OCBC also uses AI to provide customers with targeted insights, personalised alerts and notifications on market movements that would impact their FX exposure. As such, customers can set automatic execution orders at their preferred rates to mitigate the impact of currency fluctuations. 

Armed with the latest information on FX markets, FX Online customers can choose from a multitude of pricing and execution channels. They can send requests to the bank electronically or via voice or application programming interface, depending on what they are most comfortable with or what is most efficient for their circumstances.


Further afield

Along with OCBC’s four core markets, the bank provides its customers with access to more than 90 currencies, supplying them with continuous FX liquidity to conveniently hedge their FX risk and meet their funding needs.

In 2023 alone the bank added more currencies to its digital FX offerings from a diverse set of countries – including Saudi Arabia, Romania, Turkey and Mexico – making it easier to send and receive remittances from these locations. The bank can now offer more than 60 currency pairs to customers digitally.

Customers can now keep the amounts they exchange in a multicurrency account that can be drawn upon as needed, instead of automatically remitting the proceeds of these cross-border payments post-booking. Likewise, OCBC has a variety of cross-border payment options – UnionPay, DuitNow (Malaysia), PromptPay (Thailand), QRIS (Indonesia) and now Alipay+ (Singapore) – which customers can use with millions of merchants worldwide by paying directly from their accounts.


OCBC Bank was named Best trading platform for retail at the FX Markets Asia Awards 2024.

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