2020 Winner: Cathay United Bank uses ML to fight fraud & cloud to up employee engagement – Retail Banker International Asia Trailblazer Awards


Cathay United Bank (CUB) has created Cathy Shield, a data platform to fight external and internal fraud, money laundering, detect abnormal behaviours and improve product application reviews, winning it the Best Use of Machine Learning (ML) category at the Retail Banker International (RBI): Asia Trailblazer Awards 2020.

The Cathy Shield applies ML to various financial crime scenarios, using a modelling engine and data center to better exploit the results generated from trained anomaly detection situations to help create better, safer batch and real-time processing of transactions, applications, on-boarding and other bank processes. The aim is to cut potential risks in the first place and help the Risk Control Department make better use of their manpower, enhancing efficiency and performance, while simultaneously speeding up customer experience (CX).

Combining a big data platform that integrates financial crime detection modules and lessons learnt from the ML modelling element into an anti-fraud platform offers the following advantages:

  1. Model centralisation: Centralising the management of all ML models can make it more efficient in adjusting, monitoring and releasing the modules. It is particularly helpful in situations where quick responses are required to deal with financial crimes.
  2. Risk data centralisation: By integrating and sharing all risk data across systems, including watchlists or risk behaviors, the platform helps maintain unified control of the blacklist systems and reduce the risk of omissions.
  3. Extensibility: The platform can deploy customised models based on different requirements, algorithms, and scenarios, with the possibility of future additions as it learns and as attack vectors alter. In this way, the platform can create a control system for financial crime detection that covers all channels, products and scenarios.

A separate project, described below, won the Excellence in Employee Engagement category for Cathay United Bank. CUB wanted to improve its available pool of talent and workers’ satisfaction by improving their digital learning provision and enhancing corporate sustainability with a career lifecycle plan as well, so the bank launched a multi-year three-pronged approach, centred around:

  1. Digital life and learning: The bank developed a digital learning app in the cloud. Its moved books and magazines that are frequently subscribed to into the cloud, thereby reducing paper waste and environmental impacts. The app is popular, with more than 31,632 ‘book borrowing’ instances logged so far. Staff are encouraged to propose new books to be added to the list. Video and audio formats are also stored and famous teachers are invited to read the best-selling books every month, with live streams creating an interactive online community and effective, autonomous learning environment. A Sharing Club encourages common digital knowledge-sharing exercises and classes on data analysis, corporate sustainability and so on are also available. The app can also be used to clock in and out of work, useful for home working and during the Covid-19 pandemic, with 99% of employees using it. A face recognition element ensures security and speedy identity verification, while also providing automatic log-in to CUB’s intranet.
  2. Happy working environment and activities: have been encouraged by adding basketball and darts machines, pool tables, mobile KTVs, automatic coffee machines, and organic hydroponic vegetable gardens. There is even a ‘Cook food vending machine’, linked to CUB's Koko card, that allows employees to easily purchase food in the head office. Diverse and large-scale activities are also run every year, such as:
    (i) The Cathay Run, which has been grouping together 3,000 runners for four years so far.
    (ii) A well attended annual competitive snooker match.
    (iii) A weight-loss contest, which has been running for three years, has so far raised TWD$5 million (US$171,750) for charities by converting lost kilograms into donations, while simultaneously making staff healthier.
    (iv) Electronic e-sports games are also encouraged to satisfy the diverse interests of staff.
  3. Spontaneous social contribution: CUB has a total of 34 employee associations at home and abroad that carry out public welfare activities, such as in-branch bank experience learning camps for disadvantaged children and so on.

The benefits of these various initiatives is proven by the fact that the overall satisfaction rate of employees has grown in the past five years, reaching 4.28 points in 2019, an increase of 3%, while labour complaints have fallen by 13.3%. Labour relations, retention, training and staff performance are all linked. CUB believes it is getting the most from its employees and vice versa, creating a happy productive environment.


The Retail Banker International Asia Trailblazer Awards is an annual platform that celebrates the best in class retail banking institutions and individuals for their innovative service offering and commitment to customer excellence.

If you would like to share your incredible consumer finance journey, then register for the 13th Annual Retail Banker International Asia Trailblazer Awards 2022 and submit your entry!