Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer says the bank wants to recreate the personal touch of the old-time bank manager by using artificial intelligence technology to pander to each customer's particular needs.
Speaking at an IBM event in Sydney, Hartzer pointed to the bank's virtual assistant Red, which has had almost 1 million interactions with customers and resolved more than 70% of queries without escalation to a banker.
“We try to work back from the idea of how to help customers achieve things that are important to them, and AI has given us some amazing capabilities,” he said, predicting the technology would start to scale. “The way that I think about it is we're trying to recreate the experience of an old-time bank manager, but do it using technology, and some of these evolutions are quite amazing.”
Hartzer told the audience that the bank was likely to “look dramatically different” in the next few years as the company progressively transformed its IT estate, moving to a hybrid cloud environment and rolling out a slate of new products and services using real-time data and analytics to intercept customer needs.
Hartzer said advances in technologies like cloud were driving several benefits, including cost control in a more challenging environment.
“There's the layer of interaction with customers and the applications that we run; and then there's all the infrastructure around data storage and processing power and networks,” he said. “And the advances in technology are really exciting in terms of what they can do to dramatically change the cost structure.”
Earlier this month, Westpac took a minority investment in 10x Future Technologies and unveiled plans to create a new digital bank that will operate a 'bank-as-a-service' model, providing a range of financial products to customers through interactions with third party startups
“We intend to bring new digital products and services to market through fintech and institutional partners," Hartzer said at the time. "This will allow Westpac to reach a new group of customers as well as create value for our partners by enhancing the service offering to their own customers."