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Status update: conversational AI in the banking sector in 2019

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Artificial intelligence in banking industry Conversion To Genuine Benefits

By Henry Vaage Iversen, CCO & co-founder, Boost.ai

Banks and financial institutions are especially well-suited for the adoption of conversational AI. This is due to the typically high volume of small-to-mid-sized inquiries that they receive on a daily basis. While each and every customer inquiry is important, it is possible for menial, repetitive tasks to eat up valuable time of employees in the contact center, plummeting productivity levels.

Henry Vaage Iversen

Henry Vaage Iversen

A virtual agent offers the perfect solution to automate the bulk of these interactions. Juniper Research predicts that the success rate of customers interacting with artificial intelligence in the banking sector will reach over 90% by 2020. With the right implementation, it is possible to handle everything from balance inquiries to funds transfers, freeing up support staff to assist customers with nuanced topics like mortgages or financial advice.

Banks love this because it means their employees are more efficient, and they ultimately save money. And their customers love it, too, because they get the answers they need without falling prey to any of the usual customer service pain points.

Standing out in a crowded market

Being able to understand every customer is critical if you want to give your customers a fast and frictionless experience – not just the ones who know what keywords they need to use to navigate a chatbot.

My team and I like to say that ‘you can’t help anyone if you don’t first understand the problem’, which is why virtual agents need to be built using the most advanced natural language understanding (NLU) on the market. Combining natural language processing, deep learning and proprietary technology called automatic semantic understanding (ASU). ASU works alongside deep learning models to seek out more complicated connections between sentences, increasing the complexity of what inputs it can understand and reducing false positives to a minimum.

Any fit for purpose solution needs to make it possible to talk with a virtual agent, rather than being talked at by a chatbot. This technological advantage gives banking users the confidence to implement a ‘chat-first’ strategy, where customers first have to interact with a virtual agent before a human operator can be brought into the loop.

Delivering results with a ‘chat-first’ strategy

We’ve seen the use of conversational AI grow exponentially in the banking sector. Norway’s biggest bank by market value, DNB, began using conversational AI in 2018 to help handle the thousands of daily customer inquiries they received via their website. Using a ‘chat-first’ implementation strategy where their virtual agent acts as first-line support, they are seeing even better results than expected.

Since launch, DNB have seen a 55% drop in traffic to human chat. This translates to their virtual agent completely automating 20% of all their customer service traffic – that’s across all channels including email, phone, etc.

Ultimately, what this proves is that customers are less concerned whether their answers are coming from a human or a machine, just as long as they are correct and delivered in a timely manner.

Looking ahead. Bringing conversational AI stateside

In the Nordics, banks need to be forward-thinking in order to keep up with the expectations of their tech-savvy customers. The perfect proving ground for preparing to tackle the US banking sector.

There is a clear gap in the market for artificially-intelligent virtual agents that could increase customer experience and satisfaction for US banks and not make it worse through impersonal automation from poor quality chatbots.

Conversational AI presents a real opportunity to deliver a personalized customer experience on par with the good old days when businesses could maintain meaningful relationships with customers. Only now they can do so on a much larger scale than ever before.

Many banks in the Nordics are already taking their virtual agents beyond a basic info-bot implementation and branching out into the transactional capabilities that really deliver on the potential of conversational AI.

SR-Bank in Norway, is in the process of having its virtual agent officially certified as a financial advisor. This will allow it to give banking customers recommendations on retirement plans and mortgages, and could be a true game-changer for the industry.

The recent launch of the world’s first virtual agent network also opens up exciting new possibilities for the use of conversational AI technology. Allowing connected virtual agents to talk to each other, determining which one can provide the best assistance to the customer – all in the same chat window for a truly seamless experience. It’s a fantastic way to bridge the gap between business units that can often be siloed away in large enterprises like banks.

The future looks bright and we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of what is possible for conversational AI in the banking sector.

Banking

Study of 50,000+ UK banking app reviews reveals customer ‘frictions’ among prominent retail banks

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Study of 50,000+ UK banking app reviews reveals customer ‘frictions’ among prominent retail banks 1

o   Login and user authentication: Nearly a third (30%) of digital banking app customers had issues with logging into the app through their devices, and 1 in 5 (20%) cited problems with username and password or passcode authentication

o   Customer service:

§  Nearly a quarter (24%) of customers felt like they were waiting too long for customer support

§  Over 1 in 5 (22%) were unhappy with the customer resolution

§  Over 1 in 10 (16%) customers cited that the support over chat was unavailable or not useful

o   Notifications: Almost a quarter (24%) cited that the wrong operation – or none at all – was performed when they clicked on the notification icon. 23% didn’t receive notifications for payments while 1 in 5 (20%) received too many notifications

 Today Mobiquity, a full-service digital transformation enabler, launches a ‘Friction Report to benchmark UK & NL mobile banking apps,’ identifying ‘frictions’ within the UK digital banking app customer experience.

The study of 50,000+ UK customer banking app reviews within the Google Play Store and the App store shows the main ‘frictions’ across prominent UK retail banks.

One of the key issues was with login and password authentication. Nearly a third (30%) of digital banking app customers had issues logging into the app through their devices and 1 in 5 (20%) cited problems with username and password or password authentication.

Another ‘friction’ was customer service; nearly a quarter (24%) of users felt like they were waiting too long for customer support.

Almost a quarter (24%) cited problems with notifications. Either the wrong operation was performed, or no operation was performed at all when they clicked on the notification icon. 23% didn’t receive notifications for payments while 1 in 5 (20%) received too many notifications.

Meanwhile, over 1 in 5 (22%) were unhappy with the customer resolution, and over 1 in 10 (16%) customers cited that the support over chat was unavailable or not useful.

Commenting on the report, Matthew Williamson, Vice President of Global Financial Services, Mobiquity said: “As the use of digital payments increases during the pandemic, so has mobile banking usage. The launch of Mobiquity’s Banking Friction Report helps banks to identify the ‘business frictions’ in their mobile banking experience to help align with evolving customer expectations.”

“An interesting observation that can be made is that most of the banking apps in the Google Play and App store score highly, but when you only account for reviews where people actually leave comments regarding an app feature, i.e. feature ratings, scores are quite low. This can be attributed to users no longer having to proactively go to the Google Play or App store to rate an app, but now are prompted to review an app while they are using it.”

“Nowadays, banks cannot risk treating their customers as passive observers, building products and features that do not take their feedback into consideration. Looping customer feedback into the decision-making process is key as banks get real-time information regarding which aspect of the app customers value the most, and where they find the most friction while interacting with the app.”

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Banking

The future of offshore banking

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The future of offshore banking 2

By Granville Turner, Director at Turner Little.

Despite its misconceptions, the popularity of offshore banking is growing. Not only is it a perfectly legal way of holding your money, but with the right professional advice, it is also reassuringly simple to open an account.

This ease-of-use is prompting many offshore banks to change their offering to compete and make overseas banking even more accessible. No longer is it limited to just the super-rich.

So, what does the future look like for offshore banks? We’ve compiled a list of the top fundamental changes happening in the realm of offshore banking.

Catering to niche markets is the future

Rather than managing account holder’s money in general, offshore banks are tapping into how they can best serve different demographics. Essentially, it is about taking a more bespoke approach to managing money at various stages of life.

But catering to a variety of markets doesn’t just stop there. Many overseas banks are now accepting crypto as a form of currency to appeal to digital, tech-savvy generations.

Cryptocurrency is also attractive for those who see the security benefits it can offer.

Paper chains are fast becoming a thing of the past

As banks move away from paper in favour of digital, security is on everyone’s minds. This is because information is an important asset to many businesses, so protecting it is vital. As such, banks are securing data with the most vigorous encryption security standards.

For account holders, this means digital bank transfers and communication become less of a risk and the smarter thing to do. Paper chains are fast becoming a thing of the past.

Instant access, day or night

In today’s digital world, you don’t need to travel overseas to open an offshore bank account; everything can be done online or over the phone. And like most UK standard current accounts, many offshore accounts now offer online and mobile banking features. So account holders can manage their offshore finances and investments while transferring funds with ease.

Branchless banking

Offshore banks are following the same route of challenging onshore banks by going branchless. This offers substantial benefits for account holders, as branchless offshore banks don’t pass on as much overhead costs to the customer. Ultimately, this means customers can earn better interest rates and other returns on their investments.

Happy to help

At Turner Little, we work closely with offshore banks to provide you with quality service tailored to your needs. With over 20 years of international banking experience and specialist expert knowledge, we will assist you with your enquiries, no matter how complex. And every account we arrange comes with internet banking, card facilities and the ability to transact internationally.

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Banking

Hong Kong’s First Multi-Cloud Challenger Bank Goes Live with Temenos

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Hong Kong’s First Multi-Cloud Challenger Bank Goes Live with Temenos 3
  • WeLab Bank designed, built and launched using cloud-native Temenos Transact in less than 10 months
  • WeLab offers next generational digital services for the 7.5m people in Hong Kong to access from their mobile phones
  • Customers can open accounts remotely in just 5 minutes with bank reporting 10,000 account openings within 10 days of launch

Temenos (SIX: TEMN), the banking software company, today announced that WeLab Bank, Hong Kong’s first homegrown virtual bank, has publicly launched using cloud-native Temenos Transact to provide a range of next generation digital services for customers to enjoy 24/7 from their mobile phones. Designed, built and launched in less than 10 months, the fully digital bank has seen rapid take up with a reported 10,000 account openings within the first 10 days of launch.

WeLab Bank is powered by cloud agnostic Temenos Transact for core banking along with Temenos Analytics and Financial Crime Mitigation. Implemented on Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud, WeLab is the first multi cloud digital bank in Hong Kong. Operating on multiple clouds at the same time gives WeLab increased operational resilience and disaster recovery capability and is a regulatory requirement of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority for new digital banks. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit 2020 report for Temenos, 81% of global banking executives surveyed believe a multi-cloud strategy will become a regulatory prerequisite.

Developing a cost-effective and scalable core banking solution was paramount for WeLab. Temenos cloud native software is built for the digital age using API-first and DevOps principles and engineered to deploy in containers and microservices. This makes it easy for WeLab to scale for future business growth efficiently and eliminates the need to provision for peak processing volumes so that the bank only pays for its actual usage, yielding significant cost savings.

Critically, with NuoDB the solution delivers a cloud-agnostic, distributed relational database that enables WeLab to deploy an active-active on-demand database across multiple cloud providers with near zero downtime failover.

Temenos Transact is a preconfigured system and so requires very little coding and with Temenos model bank to address local practices and regulations, WeLab was able to bring its service to market faster and extend its innovation with more than 400 out-of-the-box APIs.

With Temenos, WeLab bank is set to transform banking in Hong Kong. In as fast as 5 minutes, customers can remotely open a WeLab Bank account with $0 monthly fees and start enjoying differentiated services such as time deposits with competitive rates, an interest-bearing deposit account with an instant virtual Debit Card, and real-time payments powered by Faster Payment System (FPS). Everything can be done on a mobile phone, simply and effortlessly.

Adrian Tse, CEO at WeLab Bank, commented: “WeLab Bank was born from an initiative to reimagine the banking experience for the 7.5 million people of Hong Kong. From the start, we knew this vision needed the most advanced cloud native technology and a partner that shared our vision for digital transformation. With Temenos we have efficiently built WeLab Bank from scratch, free from any legacies, with innovative features that proactively help customers to take control of their money and their financial journey.”

Max Chuard, Chief Executive Officer, Temenos, said: “Congratulations to WeLab Bank on the launch of their trailblazing new digital bank. Building and launching a licensed bank in such a rapid timeframe is a fantastic achievement and we are proud to have supported them in becoming the first multi-cloud digital bank in Hong Kong. Temenos cloud-native, cloud-agnostic strategy means we can satisfy the needs of the most innovative and ambitious neobanks like WeLab Bank to run on multiple cloud providers. We know this is just the beginning for WeLab and we are excited to be part of their story as they revolutionize banking for people in Hong Kong.”

Bob Walmsley, CEO of NuoDB said: “We are excited to be partnering with Temenos to help WeLab Bank achieve their aggressive launch timelines and deliver innovative banking services to its customers. We were inspired by the technical vision of WeLab and knew that executing an on-demand, multi-cloud strategy was a perfect fit for NuoDB. Our enterprise-class, distributed SQL database combined with Temenos’ cloud-native technology helps banks of all sizes around the globe migrate to the cloud to improve agility and reduce costs.”

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