Singapore's OCBC Bank goes live with NEC's facial recognition system

Using NeoFace, NEC's artificial intelligence engine for face recognition, the bank is able to identify its 'VIP' customers as they enter the branch.

OCBC Bank has announced that its Holland Village branch has been using NEC's facial recognition system to identify certain banking customers.

The system instantly identifies OCBC "Premier Banking" customers in real-time as they approach the lounge in the branch without needing to stop to look at the camera, a statement from NEC Asia Pacific and NEC Corporation explained.

The system, in testing since December, allows the Premier Service Manager (PSM) to identify and greet customers by their preferred name, offer them their preferred drinks and magazines, and have the customer's banking history ready.

The companies said the bank can also record the purpose of a customer's visit, gather feedback to help improve services, and understand customer behaviour patterns, such as the frequency of their visits.

"OCBC is committed to our service quality, and implementing facial recognition to elevate the customer experience is one of the first steps that we are doing in the digital economy," OCBC Bank SVP and head of E-business, Business Transformation, and Fintech & Innovation Pranav Seth said.

"Since introducing it, we received positive feedback from customers who were impressed by the personalised hospitality enabled by fast and accurate identification. Going forward, we will evaluate and consider the extension of the capability beyond customer service."

The bank uses NeoFace, NEC's artificial intelligence engine for face recognition.

In the past couple of years, NEC has rolled out a network of 400 cameras with facial recognition capabilities to Georgia, and picked up a spate of contracts including the South Australia Police, Northern Territory Police, and CrimTrac.

Most recently, NEC Australia and vision analytics firm CrowdOptic announced a live video-streaming security system that enables real-time facial recognition of footage captured from fixed cameras and mobile camera sensors in body cams, smartphones, and drones.

CrowdOptic's technology uses triangulation to detect when two or more cameras are aimed at the same person, which, according to NEC, offers new capabilities in mobility to NEC's NeoFace solution.

Speaking at the NEC Advanced Recognition Systems Experience in Melbourne in October, NEC Europe head of Global Face Recognition Solutions Chris de Silva said there is no technical reason why a nation could not load its population into a watchlist and attempt to track them constantly in real time, but said such a system would throw out too many false positives.

According to de Silva, the simple reason why a system would fail is because with a large list of people to track, too many people look alike.

"We don't notice it, we don't see millions of people in one shot ... but how many times have people walked down the street following somebody that they thought was somebody they knew, only to find it isn't that person?" he told ZDNet.

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