The rise of mobile banking in the last few years has coincided with the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) becoming more capable and pervasive in a variety of fields and applications. Although unrelated, the parallel growth in both the sectors has, of course, led to a confluence of the two, as more and more banking and finance institutions explore AI applications to improve their offerings and services. While enterprise-solutions are many – from more efficient data analytics to improved back-end workflows through automation – quite a few organisations have also explored consumer-facing applications of AI. One of the most widely adopted applications has been the consumer chat-assistant. Simply put, a chat assistant (colloquially called a chatbot) is an AI or computer programme that conducts conversations meant to replicate human conversation via auditory or textual means.
Big banks and financial companies have started to offer banking through virtual assistants -- Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri, and Google's Assistant -- in a way that will allow customers to check their balances, pay bills and, in the near future, send money just with their voice. And with the rapid adoption of Zelle, a bank-to-bank transfer system, it soon could be possible to send money to friends or family instantly with voice commands. But the potential to do such sensitive tasks through a smart speaker raises security concerns. Virtual assistants and smart speakers are still relatively new technologies, and potentially susceptible to being exploited by cyber criminals. Regional banking giant U.S. Bank is the first bank to be on all three services -- Alexa, Siri and Assistant.
Chatbots are exploding in the finance industry, and it's no surprise why. With the ability to automate operations, reach more customers, and provide a more friction-free banking experience, chatbots are streamlining and optimizing many banks' digital services. Here's how the world's biggest banks are using chatbots to boost their business. As one of the largest U.S. banks, Bank of America (BofA) is leading the charge for artificially intelligent chatbots in financial services. Last year, the company announced Erica, a voice- and text-enabled chatbot for BofA customers.
Conversational AI tools or chatbots have come a long way from error-prone level-1 support to becoming a widely used tool in banks' automation and AI strategies. Today, chatbots in banking are being used by Wells Fargo, Capital One Bank of America, HDFC Bank, HSBC, CBA, and many other leading global banks. The contribution of these chatbots is noteworthy. Consider this: Bank of America's chatbot Erica has served over 35 million customers, and HDFC's EVA engages in over 20,000 conversations every day. The overall impact and growing importance of intelligent chatbots can be understood if we look at the report from Gartner, which suggests that by 2020, customers will prefer to resolve 85% of their problems with an enterprise without interacting with support staff.
Conversations with customers have become the need of the hour for businesses. Now we are witnessing a paradigm shift from mass-centered to granular, account-based approach. Banks and other financial institutions, who work closely with customers and rely heavily on customer relationships, have always leveraged technology to assist them. First, it was internet banking in the late 90s, then mobile banking when the smartphone revolution took over the world. Now, with the advent of AI and machine cognizance, conversational banking is on the rise. Conversational banking is nothing but communication between a bank and its customer through text, voice or visual interface. It adds that extra touch of personalization in customer relationships. Conversational banking, though highly effective, comes with the hardship of effective implementation given the sheer volume of customers banks serve (or any B2C business for that matter). That is why AI becomes extremely important in conversational banking.