The OCBC Building at Beach Street, within George Town's UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a three-storey Art Deco styled-building owned by the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC). The largest Singaporean bank is also among the world's strongest banks in recent years as listed by Bloomberg.
OCBC was incorporated in Singapore, then part of British Malaya, in 1932 through a merger between three banks - Chinese Commercial Bank, Ho Hong Bank and Oversea-Chinese Bank. Two of these banks, the Ho Hong Bank and the Oversea-Chinese Bank, had branches along Beach Street. The site on which the OCBC Building now stands had been used by the Oversea-Chinese Bank since 1921. At the time, the building had an 1880s façade.
The present Art Deco-styled building was built in 1938. The distinctive dull grey finish is due to the use of 'Shanghai plaster'. The two upper floors are finished with vertical columns of plaster and has a ring motif framing the middle. The ring motif also comes with the original OCBC logo.
The OCBC branch moved to its present building present building nearby in the 1960s. Lately, the OCBC Building has been in use as part of its Premier Banking Complex, which also includes two adjacent buildings - the 1886 Building and the Kongsoon House.
The Ho Hong Bank, a Malayan bank based in Singapore, had opened its Penang branch at Beach Street in 1917. This was followed by another Malayan bank, the Oversea-Chinese Bank, which opened its Penang branch within the Kongsoon House at Beach Street in 1920.
The following year, the Oversea-Chinese Bank moved to the site where the OCBC Building now stands. The original Oversea-Chinese Bank building had an 1880s façade.
The Great Depression in 1929 severely impacted these banks. As the Oversea-Chinese Bank could not stay afloat, its management decided to amalgamate both the Oversea-Chinese Bank and the Ho Hong Bank. Later, the Chinese Commercial Bank was also invited into the scheme. The talks led to the merger of these three banks to form the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) in 1932.
By 1934, just as the global economic recovery was underway, OCBC reopened the former Oversea-Chinese Bank branch at Beach Street.
Four years later, the original Oversea-Chinese Bank building was replaced with the current OCBC Building. Designed by Charles Geoffrey Boutcher, the three-storey Art Deco-styled building was surfaced with 'Shanghai plaster', giving it its distinctive dull grey look. The two upper floors are finished with vertical columns of plaster, while the central portion comes with a ring motif containing the original OCBC logo of a Chinese junk.
Since the 1960s, OCBC's Penang Island branch has been trading out of the present OCBC Headquarters just two doors south of the OCBC Building. Recently, however, the bank has relocated some of its premium banking services back into the OCBC Building. Along with the two adjacent buildings - the 1886 Building and the Kongsoon House - the OCBC Building now serves as OCBC's Premier Banking Complex.
Today, OCBC is the largest Singaporean bank, with branches all over Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. With over US$300 billion in assets, OCBC has consistently been ranked one of the world's strongest banks.
Monday - Friday :
- Banking hours : 0930 hours - 1600 hours
- Personal banking : 0930 hours - 1700 hours
Penang State Government
N.26 Padang Kota State Assemblyman : Chow Kon Yeow (Democratic Action Party)
Malaysian Federal Parliament
P.049 Tanjong Member of Parliament : Ng Wei Aik (Democratic Action Party)
- Hockton, K., Howard Tan, 2012. Penang : An Inside Guide to Its Historic Homes, Buildings, Monuments and Parks. MPH Group, Kuala Lumpur.
- Langdon, M. A Guide to George Town's Historic Commercial and Civic Precints. Penang : George Town World Heritage Incorporated.