Will the banker of the future be a robot? This is the question more and more observers are asking in the wake of the dazzling progress made by artificial intelligence in the field of finance. But what exactly is meant by “artificial intelligence” and will it really revolutionise the sector that much? A brief overview of myth and reality.

Researched and put into practice in major research laboratories for over half a century, artificial intelligence (AI for short) can be defined as the ability of software, a program or a machine to interact with humans or with other software, programs or machines while learning with each interchange or interaction. Although at this point there are not yet any tools specifically designed for the banking sector, artificial intelligence is increasingly appearing in finance and many banks are using services from start-ups, the key issue involved being improving customer relations.

Transforming the customer experience

More and more banks are accordingly installing platforms using artificial intelligence and neuro-linguistic programming on their websites, to help users find information more easily and quickly online, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Website users can ask their questions in complete sentences and receive an “intelligent” answer to their question, as the software uses previous user experiences to constantly improve itself. Customer satisfaction increases, the bank becomes more responsive as it can track in real time what customers are looking for, and whether answers to their questions already exist, and performance of their call centres improves because they take fewer calls, from customers who have not found answers to their questions on the website.

Others are already taking matters further by using artificial intelligence to replace customer service staff for basic requests. Genuine virtual assistants, the software sorts, analyses, replies to e-mails and informs customers about the bank's offers.

And this is just the beginning: with their automatic learning capability, AI technologies will in future attain a level of maturity that will enable them to provide customers with a more personalised, worthwhile and fuller banking experience, not only in writing but also through speech recognition.

Increased capacity for analysis

Artificial intelligence also gives banks the possibility of building a 360° picture of their customers. Banks can monitor the web and social networks to evaluate their online reputations and analyse emails sent by branches to measure customer relations and satisfaction rates. More and more banks are currently implementing software able to collect and process users' online feedback forms. Artificial intelligence can also provide valuable help in economic intelligence and marketing. By studying the products and services, types of communication and CRM methods adopted by competitor banks, a bank can adapt its strategy accordingly.

Artificial intelligence is also a prime tool in reducing account opening processing time, speeding up the risk analysis process (in a few minutes instead of several weeks!) and reducing the likelihood of money laundering via investments or loans. By analysing agreements signed according to defined rules and data from various private and public sources, AI is able to provide an almost instant response.

Artificial intelligence is also entering the trading room. In December 2017, ING became one of the first banks to use AI technology to help traders get the best and fastest prices in the bond market. 

Automating the business process

In the near future, many requests will be processed automatically. AI is now able to extract the important information contained in a claim report file, analyse the head of loss in question and understand whether or not it is covered by the policy. It can also reduce the processing time when bank cards are lost or stolen. Not forgetting simplification of in-house processes such as recruitment, by automatically analysing and cross-referencing published job offers and offers received.

So, will robots really replace human staff? No, quite the opposite. By relieving them of many repetitive tasks, AI technology will help bank staff in their decision-making and allow them to concentrate solely on value-added tasks. As paradoxical as it might seem, artificial intelligence will make banks even more human.


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