A number of Sweden’s top banking institutions, including Nordea, Swedbank, and SEB, have welcomed artificial intelligence (AI) technology in an attempt to stay ahead of (or at least keep up with) the competition.
The main type of AI that they all seem to be integrating currently is the ever-evolving chatbot.
“AI is about using robotics and machine learning in combination with chatbots to automate a lot of the things we do,” said head of robotics strategy and innovation to Nordea, Mattias Fras.
“Digitisation is hitting us as much as any other business at the moment. We have new banks coming in that are providing similar products at a much lower cost. AI can enable us to compete in both customer service and efficiency.”
Banks are keen to take on chatbots for many reasons. There are just so many advantages to having an AI virtual assistant opposed to a human one.
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Firstly they can work 24/7 without the need for a break. Secondly, they don’t need paying at the end of the month.
Thirdly, they’re always super-efficient. By employing chatbots to carry out some of the more simple tasks, human workers are free to deal with more complex issues.
Last year saw Nordea introduce the Nova chatbot to its life and pensions customers in Norway, Swedbank integrates its virtual assistant Nina into its website, and Aida the virtual assistant appeared courtesy of SEB.
However, these AI chatbots weren’t made overnight. “We started exploring Aida [then called Amelia] at the end of 2015 internally without IT services,” said Erika Lundin of Aida.
“We found that, for example, unlocking a Windows account on a computer was a question often asked of our service desk. So we began with some typical IT-related questions. We did a pilot with 600 employees in early 2016.”
Nordea also started down the chatbot route quite a few years before actually introducing Nova to the world last year.
But already the chatbot can answer around 2,000 different questions posed by consumers. “We use both cloud-based solutions and on-premise systems to be fast,” advised Fras.
So do those employed within the Swedish banking industry need to be concerned for their jobs? Martin Kedback, Chief product owner at Swedbank, thinks not.
“We look at this technology more as a competence shift where the [virtual] assistant will handle the not-so-complex customer journeys where humans add little value,” he says.
“This will give our advisers more time to talk to our customers where it really matters.”