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DBS Bank looks to train 3,000 employees in AI with AWS partnership

DBS Bank is looking to arm 3,000 of its employees with basic skillsets in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) , which they then can use to programme their own autonomous race car. Offered through online tutorials, the Singapore bank’s training scheme features a virtual racing league where employees can test and tweak their car models. 

The tutorials and league will run on Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) cloud platform, and the training scheme is expected to see DBS staff, including its senior leadership team, equipped with AI and ML skills by end of this year. 

The autonomous model race cars built by the employees will be uploaded into a virtual racing environment, coined the DBS x AWS DeepRacer League, the bank said in a statement Monday. It noted that employees can experiment and continuously finetune their car models as they partake in friendly competition. 

AWS has hosted various corporate DeepRacer Leagues worldwide, though, this will be amongst the largest run by Asia-based organisations and the few by a financial institution, according to DBS. Its executive director technology and operations, Ray Goh, won the virtual AWS DeepRacer League F1 ProAm Event in May and another six employees qualified to participate in the AWS DeepRacer Championship Cup, slated to be held in Las Vegas later this year. 

DBS’ chief data and transformation officer Paul Cobban said: “As a technology company that provides banking services, we are keenly aware of the need to stay ahead of the technology curve to continue exceeding our customers’ expectations. We have never believed in limiting digital expertise to a small team. Instead, we passionately believe in democratising technology skillsets amongst all employees, so that they can run alongside the company as we advance on our digital transformation together.”

Cobban added that the use of gamification through AWS DeepRacer League aimed to better engage employees. 

DBS in recent years had been tapping the use of automation and AI to address inefficiencies and be more preemptive in meeting customer needs. Such efforts last year included the digitisation and streamlining of credit processing to facilitate advanced credit risk management using data analytics and ML. It also deployed an AI-powered engine to recommend self-service digital options based on its retail customers’ digital footprint.

Industry regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore last year announced plans to invest SG$250 million ($182.1 million) over the next three years to drive technology innovation in the sector, with added focus on AI. For instance, maximum funding for qualifying AI projects would be pushed up to SG$1.5 million, from a previous cap of SG$1 million.