Artificial Intelligence: From Powering Super-Heroes To The Banking Industry

 |  Sep 19, 2018

From making superheroes fly to becoming the driving force behind scores of businesses – Artificial Intelligence has come a long way. And with the unimaginable technological advancements in this field taking place the world over, it was hard for even the stern and conservative Banking and Finance industry to not sit-up and take notice. And notice it did – readily embracing its marvels and exploring all possible ways of leveraging the huge potential it holds.

Improving customer service and operational efficiency – these are two things that every business looks to prioritize, and the banking industry is no different. Many renowned banks and financial institutions are now, in fact, looking for different ways of using Artificial Intelligence to their advantage and improving their workflows. And it isn’t a wonder then, that Artificial Intelligence and other related technologies have found a wide array of applications today, whether it’s in conversation interfaces, recommendation engines, with conducting automated AML checks or for real-time fraud detection. There is nothing that AI cannot be made to accomplish today and banks have found ample use of it not just in their front and back office operations, but also in regulatory compliance, trading and portfolio management.

Role Of FinTechs

Curiously enough, most players in the Finance Industry today believe that any innovations that they desire from the use of AI and technologies associated with it can be brought about, only in partnership with FinTechs. In fact, a recent Global FinTech Report released by PwC India says that as high as 95% incumbents from the finance industry believe that engaging in FinTech partnerships is the only way to benefit from the huge potential that this technology holds for their businesses. And apart from using their support to gain technological edge in their products and services, they also want to leverage them for inside information about the FinTech ecosystem – information that they believe, will help them keep abreast with the various trends in the market.

Yet another outcome of their interest in the technological side of things is their exceeding familiarity with the revolutionary blockchain technology – a technology involving a decentralized, public digital ledger used to record transactions that cannot be tampered with retroactively, ensuring utmost privacy and transparency of transactions that happen on it, which is obviously something that banks can capitalize on.

Blockchain is currently being used by numerous banks for their payment infrastructure, digital identity management and post-trade settlement. And with more and more banks already using it, the number is expected to rise exponentially in the next 3-5 years. According to PwC’s report, 56% Indian incumbents are looking to make blockchain technology a part of their core business, with the global figures standing at 77%.

AI And The Indian Banking Space

Every major bank today has already taken the plunge into this exciting new venture and has AI built right into the core of its day-to-day operations. And with FinTechs offering them a vast array of possibilities from using chatbots and virtual personal assistants to profiling customers based on their past and even streamlining their internal processes – there is nothing that AI doesn’t promise to accomplish for them effortlessly.

With such benefits, many banks in India are finding ways of getting the most out of this revolutionary technology. SBI, for instance, uses an AI-based solution that is able to scan all cameras installed in a branch and draw up a report detailing whether or not customers are happy with a transaction – all in real-time.

It has also had a huge amount of success with its AI-powered chat assistant, ‘SIA’ to not just address customer queries and grievances in real-time but also guide them through banking tasks just like a human teller. Ever since its launch, SIA has managed to successfully respond to millions of queries from customers. The bank is also looking to build an AI-powered dashboard that will gauge the effectiveness of representatives, based on customer feedback.

HDFC bank, uses ‘EVA’ (short for Electronic Virtual Assistant), an AI-based chatbot, developed by a Bangalore based company and ever since its launch, EVA has helped over 5,30,000 users in 1.2 million conversations by resolving a whopping 2.7 million queries from customers in more than 17 countries.

EVA has been developed to assimilate information from thousands of resources and provide the simplest possible answer in less than 0.3 seconds (talk about real-time!) It doesn’t take much to realize that such superhuman feats could have hardly have been made possible without help from Artificial Intelligence.

ICICI happens to be yet another bank leveraging the immense power of AI in its operations. It has successfully implemented software robotics in more than 200 business processes across its various verticals. A lot of work at the bank actually happens using robotic software – that focuses on automating office work and reducing manpower. In fact, they’re the first in the country to deploy this technology, which emulates human-like actions and is able to automate and repetitively perform time-consuming, and high-volume business tasks.

The software robots deployed at the bank are designed to capture information from systems, recognize patterns, and perform business processes to execute activities like data-entry and validation, automated formatting, text mining, workflow acceleration, currency exchange-rate processing, among many others.

Canara Bank gave a human touch to their customer care by deploying ‘Mitra’ and ‘Candi’, two humanoids developed by Bangalore-based Invento Robotics and currently, deployed at the bank’s Bangalore branches. Mitra is programmed to help customers navigate large office premises performing in essence, the job of a receptionist. Candi, on the other hand, supplements Human Resources.

Mitra responds in Kannada and assists customers in navigating the bank’s head office, whereas Candi offers answers in English to 215 preset questions. The deployment of these humanoids has drastically reduced the need for humans at the bank, especially for such trivial tasks.

According to the developers, Mitra is designed to be an “indoor autonomous robot”, which essentially is a robot capable of speech and face recognition that can be deployed in various locations of offices, hospitals and even multiplex cinemas.

What The Future Holds

With Fintech and AI already in, there’s hope for even more advanced applications of these technologies in the banking sector. Banks have already started investing heavily in developing intelligent bots, and this trend is likely to increase in the coming years as more and more experts wake up to the unparalleled capabilities of chatbots.

What’s more, the amalgamation of Fintech and AI is expected to drastically impact the way we approach insurance management. Experts are extremely excited by wireless communication of data, which, when combined with AI can help recognize GPS-patterns, predicting or completely avoiding road accidents — all of which will lead to improved customer satisfaction and fewer claims.

Financial institutions, in the future, will rely even more heavily on predictive analytics to help their customers with questions like “Which credit card should I pay off first?’ , or “How much money do I need to put down for the house?”, or “How long would I need to save for a car?”, getting answered way more quickly and efficiently with bots using predictive analytics.

And all of these aren’t just trends predicted for a distant future, but are already changing the face of banking – as we know it.

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