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Technology

Do Brits really trust AI when it comes to their money?

Do Brits really trust AI when it comes to their money? 3

Do Brits really trust AI when it comes to their money? 4By James Mingard, Head of Retail & Finance at Maintel

Many are divided over the safety of virtual assistants and lack trust in their use for managing finances

With voice-activated services, such as SIRI, Alexa and Google Assistant now a staple in our day-to-day lives, the introduction of this technology to help manage our finances is still subjected to scrutiny. While chatbots and virtual assistants are now well embedded in our everyday banking, do people really feel confident that their data and money are in safe hands?

A recent US survey revealed that a huge 86% of consumers prefer humans to chatbots, demonstrating that there is a long way to go until people fully value and trust AI.  Research by Maintel shows why companies hesitate before rolling out this technology nationwide. Data protection was cited as a key concern of consumers, with almost half (47%) of them saying that they are unwilling to use a virtual assistant to contact a company out of fear their device could be hacked, giving someone access to their sensitive personal data. This is unsurprising given the high-profile data breaches we’ve seen in the past by consumer brands using this kind of technology. Almost half of British consumers (46%) were discouraged by the amount of data they believed these communication channels collect, with 44% saying that they were worried that their smart devices were always on and listening to their conversations. These fears concerning the use of AI for sensitive financial data are valid, since research by Pindrop shows that fraudsters are using interactive voice response (IVR) and one in 40 calls were found to be high risk at any given time.

Out of the whole of the UK population, consumers are roughly split into two distinct camps – those who recognise the value of virtual channels such as voice assistants and AI-powered chatbots and use services such as SIRI, Google Assistant and Alexa in their homes and daily lives, and those who fear the security implications of the technology and currently have little or no intention of adoption.

With AI in the fintech market expected to be worth $41.6 billion by 2030, it is already being used widely to enhance operations in the financial services industry.

Financial services are on board but are businesses too?

Despite consumer concerns surrounding data protection and privacy, it’s clear that voice is still a fast-growing and key focus area for companies in the UK. However, while financial services are clearly on board with AI, many businesses are still resistant.

However, when asked what challenges were preventing organisations from being able to offer customer services over smart virtual assistant channels, proving consumer demand was the most common obstacle – experienced by 44% of senior decision-makers.

Reluctance when it comes to adopting voice technology is not only felt by consumers but is also echoed within companies throughout the UK.

More than a quarter (27%) of senior decision makers stated that they had difficulty proving the ROI and benefits of voice-assisted channels when convincing senior leadership within their companies to adopt this kind of technology. As well as this, more than one in five senior decision makers (21%) highlighted selling the need to the board as a key obstacle to adopting this kind of technology, while over a third of those companies surveyed stressed a lack of available budget (36%).

Although consumer confidence is a huge factor standing in the way of the implementation of AI,  a third of companies cited a lack of understanding of the technology requirements (33%) for voice assistants. Business leaders lack the knowledge to utilise the full potential of what AI has to offer.

Just under a third of senior decision makers mentioned the absence of the skills needed to successfully deploy the technology (28%). This doesn’t appear to be an issue for the financial services industry which is advancing in its deployment of the technology.

The development of virtual assistants via smart devices is inevitable, as technology becomes increasingly intuitive and tailored to fit the needs of its users. However, our research reveals that consumers still tread with caution when adopting this kind of technology or purchasing these smart devices for their homes.

With many still suspicious about the safety of AI, it’s crucial for companies and financial services to be transparent on the potential implications of the technology. Many companies remain reluctant to discuss security issues, yet consumers are still looking for reassurance. Financial organisations must decide whether they will use the technology and therefore ensure customers’ data is protected, or devise a plan for the future on how they will engage in smarter ways to keep up with their customers and maintain a feeling of trust in an organisation. Chatbots are only successful when they are relevant, provide the information users require at the first time of asking, are time bound and without delay.

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