Chatbots are the new Black – How Chatbots are changing banking.

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I was at a banking roundtable about 6 weeks ago, with a number of banking leaders from across the UK and Europe. When it came to my turn to speak, I asked ‘What do people think when I say AI?’…. there was a noticeable groan in the room. AI one person argued was a term used to sell conference tickets. However, beyond the apathy when you delve deeper, there are clear real world applications of AI in banking; the most prevalent being the simple, lovable chatbot. 

Chatbots are artificial intelligence at their simplest and most effective form. They are allowing the app to evolve and the online experience for the consumer to improve dramatically, through a simplified and more narrative driven User Experience. On the simplest level, Machine Learning and NLP technologies are being implemented to allow the brand, via AI to help and converse with the consumer. 


We are now in a period of a Bot gold rush when every bank in the world seems to want to be embracing this. It is viewed as a central pillar of what is seen as a golden age of digital transformation in banking. Analysts at Gartner have forecasted that more than 85 per cent of customer interactions will be managed without a human by 2020, while AI market research specialist TechEmergence believes that chatbots will become the primary consumer AI applications over the next five years.

So, why now? Why has the past 12 months seen the proliferation of this tech that has existed in a similar form for years?

Well in short, there seems to be a realisation of the technologies potential. Digital heads seem to have realised en-masse that this simple technology, whilst not replacing our friendly helper, could fundamentally create a shift in the way e-banking works.

It also reflects the incumbents’ needs to showcase their digital chops when they are being increasingly shown up by the agility and user friendliness of the rising challengers. 

Whilst technology continues to be in one long state of flux, social messaging continues to be a dominant technology. The chatbot exploits this. Millennials with disposable income, and tech savvy attitudes to life, love the bot. The increased interest in chatbots reflects not just a technology shift, but a Black Mirror esque shift to social messaging as a predominant form of youth communication.

This has been reflected and had a knock on effect on the banking apps market; as millennials spend more time within the social messenger environment, they are reluctant to download traditional native apps in order to accomplish basic tasks.

The most effective use of chatbots so far seems to be where brands can create a simplified UI around delivering effective customer service. As the technology adoption grows, so does the opportunity. Bots then are here to stay, becoming an ever more pervasive force in digital marketing.

Embrace the bot, and let it embrace you. 


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