Chatbots, AI, and finance. There is something exciting about being at the very beginning of a new era in technology. I’ve been here before. I was one of the first staff members of an Internet company, Qbik, in 1996.
Back then, the internet was “black and white, slow and geeky” as one of my old friends likes to say. I had a front row seat as the internet burst onto everyone’s desktops in glorious colour.
I believe we are at another similar junction in technological development, just as important as the early internet – the age of Artificial Intelligence. Artificial Intelligence or AI, is at the tipping point of reaching into our everyday lives. Like previous revolutions it will be hard to say when it actually “starts”; instead it will be a slow, stealthy, and inexorable creep until we are immersed in AI and surrounded by ‘synthetic intellects’.
Where is it going to impact us first?
Different sectors of the economy will be affected in very different ways and at different speeds. Financial services is one of those at the vanguard of disruption from technology-leaps. Most readers are no doubt aware of the development of alternative ‘virtual’ currencies based on blockchain technology. These are already starting to change the way people think about the very nature of what a financial transaction is. While not an AI technology (yet), it will demonstrate entirely different paradigms and approaches in the industry; all the while regulation will race to stay ahead of the curve.
The area where AI will have the greatest initial impact on financial services is likely to be with customer interaction on all levels. This ranges from simple accessing of general information (“Where is my closest branch?” etc.), through to completing complex financial transactions like remortgaging your house. Where there used to be multiple person-to-person interactions, AI heralds a future of these being rolled into human-AI interactions at first, and ultimately AI-to-AI interactions.
What do human-to-AI interactions look like? How will they work?
The ideal use of AI for customer interactions is through the use of chatbots through text chat systems like Skype or Facebook Messenger. The appeal of using these systems is that almost everyone in the developed world is using them already so it’s an easy way to get in front of customers. These are usually accessible through a customer’s mobile phone – so it’s always available to them.
The problem most large financial services organisations have is that many of the customer interactions they have are low value, yet chew up a lot of expensive ‘human time’. Chatbots are available 24/7, never tire, and are always polite.
All forms of financial services are likely to need to move fast into this area to avoid being disrupted by new players, and banking has such an extensive exposure to customer services that it has a huge opportunity to be at the forefront of innovation in the new AI enabled age.
How do I get a chatbot?
Bots are a new technology and as such, they are complex to develop and deploy. Ambit has built an AI-enabled conversational chatbot platform that delivers a turnkey service for large-scale enterprises.