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AI and the banks around the world

by Lewis Panther | 12 Apr 2018
It’s hard to think about the future of banking and financial services without talking about Artificial Intelligence. AI and the banks around the world InFinance FINSIA

AI is already having a significant impact all around the world as millennials demand easier access to their money.

The thought of standing in the queue to speak to a teller at their local bank branch would fill tech savvy customers with horror.

And while there have been fears AI will lead to tens of thousands of job losses,  those fears have been dismissed by early adopters who say technology will actually result in more jobs.

From chatbots to algorithms that can predict market movements from analysing social media, 2018 and beyond is all about AI.

Here in Australia, National Australia Bank's "virtual banker" can recognise 13,000 variations of 200 common questions from its business banking  customers. NAB's digital bank UBank has created RoboChat with IBM’s Watson system to respond to questions on home loans.

Commonwealth Bank launched a chatbot called Ceba in January. By the end of the year, it expects it will understand 500,000 ways customers might ask for 500 different banking activities.

The rest of the world is also seeing a rush towards AI, with chatbots emerging as the most high profile innovation.


Has just revealed it is allocating $200m towards fintech after ploughing in more than $2bn in digital capabilities around the world between 2015 and last year.
Head of growth and innovation Vivek Ramachandran said: “An increasing number of clients like to use new technology to conduct bank transactions in a secure and transparent way,”

Its WeChat notification system, which allows customers to make payments and deposit around the clock, hit 1bn users last month. Use of its mobile app was up 55 per cent last year and the bank allows Touch ID in 37 markets around the world.


Developed an AI system like Apple’s iPhone personal assistant Siri to let customers talk to a device and get information they need for vital transactions.
Bots like this at contact centres can answer basic inquiries to free up employees for more complicated questions. They can use robo-advisers to provide basic investment services at lower cost.

They can put digital payment applications on mobile devices that will advise consumers on which credit or debit card will earn the most points when they make a purchase.

It also allows them to upgrade their cybersecurity and fraud prevention with biometric technologies such as voice recognition.

With security being an ongoing concern for banking customers, as pointed out in a FINSIA report in March it will come as no surprise to learn that 70 per cent of FS executives are using AI technology to detect and deter security intrusions.

Perhaps more than ever before, with hackers using increasingly advanced tools, it is technology’s turn to strike back. Again, AI is a vital part of the battle.


Goldman Sachs has invested in a startup called Kensho, which is also backed by Google and the CIA, that has been valued at $550m.

It uses AI to decipher big data such as social media to spot behavioural trends. Online articles, economic reports, monetary policy changes and political events are also put into the AI in a bid to give investors an edge.

Kensho answers questions in plain English about what is happening in the financial world. It has been called Siri for bankers because of the claims that it can answer questions like: “What happens to stocks and shares when there is a terrorist attack in Syria or London?”


Has introduced a “Contract Intelligence” (COiN) platform designed to “analyze legal documents and extract important data points and clauses.”

A manual review of 12,000 annual commercial credit agreements normally requires approximately 360,000 hours.

But results from COiN show it could review the same number of agreements in seconds, demonstrating the tremendous power of AI.


Lloyds is deploying complex cognitive technologies, machine learning algorithms and intelligent process automation across its business operations.

The company is piloting intelligent chatbots that can solve problems, according to director of digital development Marc Lien.

He said: “These smart assistants will resolve customers’ queries or, if they’re unable to help, pass them on to a human operator.”

In order to improve their ability to understand customers’ intentions and resolve their issues, chatbots are initially being deployed internally to help the bank’s employees answer customers’ questions faster and more effectively.

The bots get smarter as they learn how to solve the various issues presented to them, Lien says.

“We have tens of thousands of employees dealing with customers — from client managers to telephone operators.

The chatbots draw on the bank’s entire catalogue of information and bring back anything relevant to employees as they need it.


The Swiss Bank UBS is using robots on the trading floor in an attempt to boost traders’ performance.
Stressing the technology is not a threat to employee activities, the bank’s Annika Schröder said: “There’s a lot of irrational fear about AI.  People are still key to our business — their creativity, their skills in managing projects, designing, planning and validating systems.

“The relationship between robots and humans will be a collaborative one. We’re having sessions with the workforce to explain the technology and hopefully alleviate any fears they may have.”


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