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Analysis

Bots are Taking Over the Finance Industry’s CRM

Banks are using bots for simpler administrative tasks, but will they push out human tellers? Answers inside

Chris Morrison
August 23 2017

Finance, a traditionally risk-averse sector, is ahead of most industries, at least when it comes to using robots for customer interaction. Bank bots will soon be managing accounts, reminding users to pay bills, and giving advice on loans and investments.

Banks have already dabbled in introducing automated customer service, especially for fairly predictable requests. Mobile banking via SMS started in 2003, enabling functions such as moving money around your own accounts or checking your balance and transaction history. But text prompts were often unwieldy, far from what a normal conversation should sound like, unless you communicate in code when speaking to your tellers.

Chat bots are a fundamental change in customer service for banks and many other businesses. Recent years have seen rapid advances in the natural language processing and deep learning required to mimic human speech patterns. “The reason chatbots are such a big promise is that when a customer approaches a chatbot, they don’t need to learn a new experience,” said Ron Shalit of Personetics, a company that specializes in creating bank bots. Read on as we run through several other benefits for banking bots.

Better Finance Management

Kasisto, another company that develops finance bots developed an AI — MyKai — that assists users in managing their money by reminding them about upcoming bill payments, and transferring funds between accounts so the user always has ample payment. The AI also helps users save and budget, by tracking spend for things like food and clothing and moving their excess money to savings if the user spends less the following month.

And consumers are welcoming the change. A Personetics’ study shows that 7 out of 10 people are open to receiving AI-assistance on banking, investing, and insurance services. “Chatbots let you both have much higher precision and understanding of the problem you’re solving for customers, and it lets you create content uniquely catered for this audience,” said Shalit.

Personalized Offers and Benefits

Credit card companies like Mastercard and American Express are also using AI to provide better customer service. Mastercard’s bot MasterKAI, developed by Kasisto, sends offers based on a user’s location. The Amex Bot can pull up restaurant recommendations for trips users booked, or remind passengers about benefits that come with the card, such as access to airport lounges. “It’s this natural platform that creates inspiration for how we think we can reimagine service, and that is inspiring and exciting,” said Matt Sueoka, AmEx’s head of mobile payments.

The functionality comes at a time when consumer’s attitude towards exchanging personal data for personalized offers is warming. More than half of consumers are willing to trade personal data for better offers, but only if companies give them control of the information they hand over. 

Increased Convenience for Younger Users

Bots also appeal to younger generations, most of whom have never written checks or owned a credit card. Plum, a Facebook Messenger bot that helps track spending, communicates with informal dialogue and the use of emojis.

Younger consumers expect their brands to have a presence on mobile, and banks are no different. Millennials access their accounts on mobile more than any other channel–including actual brick and mortar branches. “An entire generation is coming of age financially now. They grew up in the world of texting,” said , of Abe.ai, a company that specializes in building banking bots.

The Future of Banking is in Chatbots… and Humans

Chatbots are becoming finance’s edge in an increasingly messenger-app driven mobile market. Shalit believes that the best chatbox application for businesses is to augment them with human capability. Chatbots enable faster problem resolution by eliminating the need for small talk and niceties, which frees human agents to handle more sensitive cases. “Chatbots are better than humans in some things and humans are better than chatbots in others. Humans are better at interactions that require a delicate touch, when the customers aren’t cooperative or happy,” he said.

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Chris Morrison

Chris Morrison is a reformed game developer and a freelance writer specializing in game design, app marketing, marketing technology and other areas. He was previously a writer for VentureBeat before trying his hand at game design.

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