Even though Amazon Lending has been around for a number of years now, it has really had the impact Jeff Bezos was hoping for. However, a newly formed alliance between Amazon Lending and Bank of America Merrill Lynch may be about to change that.
Amazon’s not the only technology giant trying to break its way into the financial services sector. Others such as Facebook and Alibaba are also at it. But, Amazon Lending is only available in a few selected countries: the US, UK, and Japan. Since 2011, more than 3.5 billion in loans have been issued by the firm. However, in terms of lending power, that’s not that great.
Artificial intelligence (AI) will no doubt play a big part in helping Amazon Lending boost its performance levels. Alexa is Amazon’s AI assistant that’s been around since 2014. Already it can do a number of important tasks such as checking calendar appointments, finding information about upcoming events, check the weather, manage orders, search for products and so much more. Soon, thanks to the advancement of AI, financial advice and wealth management can be added to the list too.
Swiss financial services company UBS is currently in collaborations with Amazon to have Alexa answer questions on behalf of the company. At the moment, the AI will only have to tackle very simple questions such as “Am I able to move $50 to from my savings to my checking account?”, but the intention is to eventually have the AI answer a whole range of different queries and requests.
Salesforce is another huge corporation that’s beginning to offer services based on AI and machine learning. It recently revealed a whole platform dedicated to financial advisors based in the US. While the Bank of America is in the process of developing its conversational interface called Erica.
According to Scott Mullins, head of global financial services business at Amazon Web Services, the end goal is not to take away the roles of financial advisors, but to help them. AI will enable them to “devote more time to innovating and addressing customer challenges and less time worrying about infrastructure and technology deployment.”
So, whether Amazon Lending will become a big name in banking anytime soon, is still up for debate. But, it’s unlikely it will be anything other than a sideline project for the retail giant.