MILLENNIALS run the show at OCBC's Innovation Lab, a platform created in June 2013 to hear ideas from bank employees on ways to better the experience of both OCBC's external customers and employees alike.

Since 2014, at least 14 Millennials with an interest in programming and technology have been rounded up for OCBC's dedicated, in-house mobile development team to execute and prototype these ideas, Praveen Raina, senior vice-president of group operations and technology, told BT.

"It's a very heavy investment from the organisation in this team, with support all the way from the chief executive. But we see returns (as) speed to market is important. Somebody comes up with an idea, we quickly prototype it, show it to senior management, and then quickly get it out to the market - which gives us an edge in the industry," said Mr Raina.

Strengths of Millennials - Generation Yers born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s - include tech savviness, honesty in whether ideas make sense, having their own way of doing things, and not always following the norms, he shared.

"The amount of time they spend on social media is a lot more than me; they know what's happening on the ground, and they bring this sentiment and empathy to the team."

OCBC, he said, comprises traditional bankers who are used to doing traditional things. The Innovation Lab therefore brings the Silicon Valley mindset that the bank didn't have at that time: to break things, to let things fail and yet say it's okay to fail.

For that, spontaneity is key. Said Mr Raina: "I cannot say that innovation starts at 9am. People have to believe it, and feel that they can make a difference. This is why when not every idea that comes in will be implemented, and not every idea will be successful, we make it a point to acknowledge every single idea or feedback that we receive."

Since the opening of the lab, over 7,000 ideas have been collected from 1,500 employees, of which 200 ideas have been implemented to date, allowing OCBC to reap savings of some S$3 million, reported the bank.

But it doesn't just stop there; these ideas are constantly revisited to enhance the end-user experience, said Lim Dedy Daryono, vice-president of information technology.

The OneTouch Biometrics mobile banking app, for instance, was originally conceived (in the Innovation Lab) as a basic service to let customers easily view their account balance using just their fingerprint on their iPhone. The app later added ancillary services such as the viewing of the last 10 transactions, credit card outstanding balance as well as cash reward points balance - via the same quick touch. Unveiled in March this year with the enhanced version out in July, OneTouch is said to be the first of its kind in the region.

In June 2014, OCBC piloted paperless branches at Kallang Wave Mall and Orchard Gateway. The idea was to install a digital platform (conceptualised in the Innovation Lab) that allows customers to perform 10 commonly transacted branch services without having to touch physical forms. About 500 digital applications have been processed at the two branches, reducing paper wastage by as much as 50 per cent, said OCBC.

Bank employees have also benefited from the lab. The Flex app, designed in-house and implemented in August 2014, is a mobile app for staff to submit their medical claims with just a photograph of the receipt, and which allows them to get their reimbursements in three days, instead of what used to take weeks. And shuttle buses have been added to provide free, two-way transport between the bank's Tampines and Chulia Street offices - a proposal by bank employees who regularly travel for meetings.

Said Mr Raina: "Our innovation journey has been an exciting one. We built the Innovation Lab not knowing what we would be getting into, but the returns have been mind-boggling and certainly exceeded our expectations."

Every Friday, his team gathers at the Innovation Lab to exchange ideas during sessions that are also open to any staff who wish to participate. Mr Raina said: "Whether it's blockchain or buses, there is never an idea too big or small."