AI Creeps Into Financial Services Via Chatbots

19. March 2018.

Training AI to recognize a question is hard, but formulating the correct answer is even harder. Chatbots eliminate errors in speech recognition and banks are limiting chatbots to relatively narrow knowledge domains to minimize errors and Singapore has become the field testing laboratory of choice for FIs:

“Bank customers across Asia have been quick to embrace artificial intelligence. U.S. banking giant Citi is the latest to roll out a natural language chatbot.

Developed in Singapore, the launch in the city-state is Citi’s first globally and a precursor to it being rolled out in other markets. The chatbot is able to address a range of needs such as checking of account balances and transactions, providing credit card bill summaries and answering frequently asked questions.

AI’s Growing Influence

Bank customers across Asia have adopted artificial intelligence (AI) solutions quickly. Singapore bank OCBC introduced AI-powered chatbot «Emma» in 2016 to respond to customers’ queries on home and renovation loans, and has since raked in more than S$100 million in home loans.

Fellow Singapore lender DBS introduced its own digibank virtual assistant in January 2017. The artificial intelligence-driven chatbot understands natural language and is able to respond in real-time.

In May 2017 Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group announced the development of a chatbot to answer customer questions over Japanese messaging app Line. Meanwhile for the banks the introduction of AI could prove decisive in saving labor and operational costs.”

In some instances these experiments are much bolder. Yesterday MasterCard and SoftBank announced a version of Pepper, a robot that will assist Singaporean customers select and pay for a a meal at Pizza Hut. Then there is this self-learning chatbot to support investors seeking fund information:

“The use of artificial intelligence in Asian financial services is not limited to consumer banking however. Schroders Singapore recently launched a beta version of Schroders GO, an online chatbot operating through Facebook messenger. The U.K.-based firm claims it is the first asset manager in Singapore to digitize the investor service experience.

The Schroders chatbot allows clients to access information on any fund as well as market information at anytime of the day without having to download an app. The bot is able to self-learn and answer three-dimensional questions.”

Lest we get ahead of ourselves with AI mania, we should remain alert to potential negative consequences of AI, such as AI with hallucinations and AI used for malicious purposes as identified in the Lexalytics newsletter here.

Overview by Tim Slaone, VP, Payments Innovation at Mercator Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Goup

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