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Banks should back off from clunky chat bots - Forrester

02 September 2016  |  8460 views  |  0 Group of arrows with one odd pointing other direction

Bots are not ready for prime time when it comes to banking, and most banks should hold off on launching customer service or chat bots on messaging platforms for another two to three years, according to a new Forrester report.

Banking via bots is currently very much in vogue, with banks rushing to roll out out conversational AI technology that will allow customers to manage their money and make payments in popular messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

However, Forrester's research shows that while bots can be effective in some circumstances, today's bot technology often leads to uneven — or worse — experiences for banking customers, either failing to complete the consumer’s request or providing a clunky, awkward experience.

Forrester analyst Peter Wannemacher, says: "While someone may not fret much when ordering a taco is clunky or doesn't work, the stakes are too high when it comes to actions and advice related to people's money."

While bots and their underlying technology are set to get much better over the next few years, it will be tech companies, not banks, that will be at the forefront of advancing this technology, he says.

With the exception of China, where multiple banks already have bots on WeChat, Wannemacher recommends a focus by banks on foundational digital initiatives such as data infrastructure and the construction of open APIs, until the underlying artificial intelligence (AI) has improved to yield better bots.

"This will allow banks to take advantage of the next-generation bots that technology firms will be working to advance and evolve over the next few years," he says.

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