The relationship between big banks and fintech is turning less into competition and instead focusing more on pleasing the customer.
The Bank of Montreal (BMO) is the latest of the big five Canadian banks to leverage AI and a smaller fintech company to provide their users with a personalized experience. The bank is launching Bolt and a Virtual Assistant, the first being a Facebook Messenger-based chatbot, while the second is a menu-based question-and-answer chatbot on Twitter.
“Our goal is to provide an exceptional customer experience and meet our customers where they are, and digital is increasingly becoming the preferred way for our customers to engage with us on a daily basis,” said Brett Pitts, CDO at BMO Financial Group.
Bolt was developed in partnership with Finn AI, a Vancouver-based startup that focuses on developing chatbots for the financial world. The chatbot was fed 250 of the most-asked questions and can offer guidance and information to customers who simply use their Messenger account and start chatting with BMO. As Bolt continues to be fed questions, it will improve and grow through machine learning tendencies.
Finn AI actually did something very similar when they launched a chatbot with ATB Financial that allowed their customers to ask simple questions and communicate through Messenger. Finn AI won best in show at the Finovate conference last year for their chatbot.
The Twitter chatbot was developed in partnership with Massively, and users start their interaction by direct messaging BMO’s account. Once engaged, the customer can select from a menu of several options to answer their inquiry.
“The launch of these chatbots, and the integration of AI into our customer-facing technology, provides an opportunity to build upon the relationships we have with our digitally active customers and create more convenient and personalized experiences through both self-service and assisted-service channels.”
The idea of these chatbots and assistants is to simply give customers more choices when it comes to interacting with BMO. Often times the questions are very basic and can be answered without the help of a live agent, such as balance or statement inquiries.
A 2017 Accenture study found that 71 per cent of banks believe AI can be the face of their organization or brand—with nearly two-thirds of banks also saying AI interfaces could become the primary way they interact with customers. Many Canadian banks have already adopted some form of AI, whether it be TD working with Kasisto and acquiring Layer 6, or RBC launching AI-powered bots like NOMI.