NatWest’s latest move to begin tests for artificial intelligence (AI)-driven digital human perfectly depicts the penetration of new innovative technologies in the financial services space. According to the bank’s announcement, the digital human, Cora, stands a chance to be used as an extra way of responding to basic banking questions raised by customers. Some of the issues that Cora could answer in future include what do I do if I lose my card?how to login to online banking? and How do I apply for mortgage?.
In 2017, NatWest introduced Cora, a text-based chatbot with the capability of answering 200 basic banking inquiries. Currently, the bot executes 100, 000 conversations with bank customers per month. Unlike the former technology, the new Cora prototype leverages advancements made in various fields like artificial intelligence, psychology, computing power, and neuroscience. In fact, the prototype is built to conduct two-way verbal conversations with customers via a mobile phone, tablet or computer screen.
The development of Cora relies on technology from Soul Machines, a New Zealand-based company. The company builds a virtual nervous system that can identify human emotion both verbally and physically through facial expressions. To do so, it uses biologically inspired models of neural networks and the human brain. Even so, the bot undergoes training when interacting with new subject matter, which ensures that she learns from her mistakes. This method aims at increasing the accuracy of future conversations.
Although NatWest is expected to release the new bot upon successful completion of a pilot, current tests have indicated several benefits of Cora. One of the advantages includes the possibility of helping partially sighted and blind customers to use visual content. In addition, more customers, especially those who avoided online services in the past, could be likely to interact with such digital humans.
Presently, NatWest thinks of the possibility of utilizing Cora to give its human advisors a break from answering additional complicated questions from customers. Also, there is a chance for the bot to be used in responding to queries that are not related to ordinary working days and hours.
Cora represents a growing trend of financial service companies using digital assistants. For instance, in the summer of 2017, Digital Nordic bank Nordnet, unveiled the enrollment of Amelia, its first digital employee. The bot works side by side with other employees based in the bank’s customer relations department. What’s more, her first duty at the bank has been to help customers with various issues like account activation and taking new clients through the onboarding process.
Comments made by Peter Dahlgren, the CEO of Nordnet, regarding the employment of Amelia stressed that she is an AI with the ability to meet the individual requirements of each customer. His remarks justified the main reason for the bank to invest on Amelia, notably her inclusion into the customer relations department’s staff. Additionally, Peter Dahlgren emphasized that the employment of Amelia would allow her colleagues to focus more on value-adding activities or rather what humans are good at doing.