How Virtual Assistance Is Revolutionizing The World Of Finance
From virtual reality banking systems to AI chatbots and personalized rewards, financial services are finding innovative ways to improve while delivering more convenient support
As the demands of modern life increase, virtual assistance is providing ways to simplify consumers’ day-to-day tasks, including finance-related ones, saving people time and hassle by providing support and services whenever and wherever customers need them.
Always-on and informed virtual assistants encourage consumers to ask questions, explore product possibilities and get the most out of their banking experiences, as questions arise before or during their in-branch or remote experiences. Here’s how five financial institutions or service providers are providing greater convenience and facilitating transactions using the latest technologies, from augmented and virtual reality to AI and mobile applications:
Italian online bank Widiba created a virtual reality banking system called Widiba Home to provide services to customers. Customers can download the Widiba app and by wearing a pair of VR glasses, they can enter a virtual branch to carry out transactions or talk to an advisor. To navigate around the branch, customers can ask for what they want in the same way they would if they were talking to a live agent. Customers talk to the app using their own words and phrases to consult balances and transactions on their account and cards, check securities and portfolio information and carry out other banking operations. Then, the platform takes this information and interprets the customer’s intention to deliver the expected solution, and then continues the conversation, just like a human bank teller.
London-based startup Cleo has begun offing its AI-powered chatbot to U.S. customers, which offers an accessible and intelligent way to manage money. Customers can ask for and receive insights into their spending across multiple accounts and credit cards, broken down by transaction, category or merchant. The service also lets customers send money to Facebook Messenger contacts via Cleo, donate to a charity and set spending goals and alerts, based on their financial data. Additionally, Cleo provides customers with recommendations on how they can save money and automatically switches to the best-value products.
China Construction Bank
Beijing-based bank China Construction Bank has opened fully-automated bank branches that have no human staff, and instead use facial recognition, artificial intelligence and virtual reality to provide customers with bank services. Customers scan their faces to access their customer information, and then are met with a second robot in the lobby, which uses voice recognition to answer inquiries. The smart automated tellers offer customers a range of services, including account opening, money transfer, foreign exchange, gold investment and the issue of wealth management products. If the artificial assistants can’t solve complicated demands, there are humans who are ready to offer assistance. Consumers can also use QR codes to pay for products and services, or engage in small interactive augmented reality (AR) games to make the experience more of an occasion rather than just branch visit. The brand also has a VR machine that showcases CCB’s latest home rental offerings.
London-based bank HSBC is creating a rewards program that uses AI to personalize its rewards program and create meaningful interactions with customers. The bank has partnered with Maritz Motivation Solutions, a provider of loyalty programs to U.S. and global companies whose technology suggests a redemption category to promote to each credit cardholder and calculates the percentage of customers likely to redeem in different categories. In its development phase, HSBC has engaged thousands of existing customers to study what they are searching and how it compares with their activity six months back, and ahead. Eventually, HSBC plans for the program to read customer data to predict how customers might redeem their credit card points so it can help them navigate rewards offerings across categories—travel, merchandise, gift cards or cash—more actively and effectively.
UK bank NatWest is testing a life-like avatar named Cora to help customers with basic queries and on-demand customer support needs. The AI bot can hold a two-way vocal conversation with customers via a computer screen, tablet or mobile phone and is equipped with machine learning technology. Through its capacity to learn, Cora becomes increasingly proficient at understanding and helping customers.
In keeping with the demands of modern consumers, financial services now need to cater directly to customers and come to them, not the other way around. Being accessible to people where they already are—namely, online and particularly on mobile devices—is paramount to staying relevant and satisfying customers. For more information on trends taking place within financial services, see PSFK’s report Enhancing The Banking Experience With Digital Tools.