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Is SIRI your future banker?

It might be free of cost, offering support round the clock – but when was the last time you hung up satisfied after being on call with the Instant Voice Response support? Online banking too has its limitations – like site disruption, complicated navigation and accessibility. Take a double leap of faith and that could land you with a faceless, and yet, a trusted “voice” in the banking sector – a new (AI) assistant.

Apple’s (artificial) intelligent personal assistant Siri took the world by surprise, though it also left many exasperated. Siri can’t hear you in loud environments, Siri ignored silent modes and worked only if she had Internet access. But this was almost 5 years ago. Voice assisted banking is now more than just reality and is being advanced as the new Siri capable of replacing digital banking.

Over the last few years we have witnessed the birth of several AI ‘assistants’ like Microsoft’s Cortana, Google’s Varous and Amazon’s Echo. More and more people prefer managing most of their day-to-day tasks digitally and would want to establish a better financial relationship with their banks that are digital too!  Taking cue, the banking sector has improvised, and how! Today, the (AI) voice in your phone can interact with you, answer your questions, find information and more importantly, connect you with various banking services.

Today, there are several leaders in the banking services who are adopting voice recognition and AI technologies. For starters, a leading UK bank has been working on a technology that will allow you to talk to a robot computer system to make money transfers. The SmartBank app of a leading Spanish bank will be able to chart out and provide your spending trends (up to a year) at your favorite shop. Several other banks offer voice technology that enables you to make payments, set up accounts, and report losses. Capital One claims to be the first company to let its customers access their bank account through the likes of Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Fire TV.

The AI adoption has not only allowed robot voices to carry out your bank transactions – but has opened doors to a whole new world of “AI bankers” waiting to assist you. Take for example the automated financial advisor – this AI powered advisor monitors stock and price trends against your financial goals and portfolio to recommend what’s best for you; then comes the smart wallet, that monitors your spending and saving habits and asks you to tighten the belt when need arises. Opening the world of big data, a few AI applications even offer customized investment opportunities, loans rates and fees… and the list keeps growing.

But is AI assisted technology in the banking sector without any shortcomings? As technology advances, it has also thrown up many challenges – take for example the common dilemma- how can a user pick the best online banking application – how can these applications be different? The speed of execution and ability to provide assistance in real-time and then of course, will it be user friendly? Then comes the more challenging hurdles – is AI driven technology prone to cyber attacks? Will the application identify the real user and is it completely hack-proof to impersonators? But supporters of AI claim victory by citing Siri’s rebirth as an example to overcome such shortcomings.

One thing can be certain – no one fears invasions or a takeover! In fact, AI’s alliance with the banking industry happened in the 80s when people wanted to do away with frauds from manual banking. While the likes of Siri are waiting to speak with you, Nao is a whole new chapter. All of 58 cm, this non-human staff well-versed in 19 languages is waiting to meet you at the Bank of Tokyo, Mitsubishi…



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