Meet Aida. Shes helpful, polite and, according to Aida herself, she is ‘always at work, 24/7, 365 days a year. Shes also a robot.
Aida, who has a female persona after customers said they felt more comfortable dealing with female voices, is able to answer customers’ simple questions thanks to the vast account data she holds in her AI-brain.
She’s also the latest in a growing technology drive within the financial sector. Shes in good company, following on from the now ubiquitous online or app banking, popular contactless and digital payment methods, experimental chatbots and all in one ATMs designed to combat increasingly common branch closures.
The automated bank teller is designed to perform repetitive and routine manual processes, allowing employees of SEB AB, one of Swedens largest banks, to engage in complex tasks.
Johan Torgeby, Chief Executive Officer at SEB, said:
“here are some frequent, simple tasks that we need to deal with manually today, and in that effort were looking into AI to see how we can deploy it and Aida is one.”
So, Aida is bankings equivalent of Cortana, Siri or Amazon Echo, with SEB customers able to ask specific questions about their account, or even just general banking questions.
On the other hand, discussions about, for instance, mortgages, are highly complex, requiring the deft hand of a knowledgeable human adviser.
The real question over Aidas ‘front of house presence, which follows last years Amelia AI who assists in SEBs back-room IT operations, is whether this is the face of the future or just a fad.
While there seems to be a new banking technology being rolled out every week, so far very few have filtered down to the mainstream. Much of the new tech remains too expensive for a national or global release or find themselves trapped in never-ending pilot schemes. Some simply fail to capture the public’s imagination.
And that’s both good and bad news for customers. We can now find ways to access our money more conveniently than at any other time in 50 years, when the cash machine was introduced on to UK streets.
However, the advancing technologies trap customers in a vicious circle, playing a major part as both the cause and effect of branch closures that leave many in rural areas, where internet connections are unreliable, without access to even the most basic banking services.
A study by GfK, the market research company, showed a real difference between customers expectations of their banks services and advice compared to what they receive.
According to them, its hoped that advances like Swedens Aida will ‘hold the promise of filling in these service gaps, given the right data and programming.
However, dont expect to see the British Aida in your local branch any time soon – the UK remains a country where 94% of UK adults still rely on traditional ATMs. Instead, expect minor technological advances, rather than sweeping changes.
Indeed, possibly the financial industrys most successful tech revolution was a simple tweak to an existing technology: Enhancing their secure online banking offering to provide basic banking services usually performed in your local branch.
Impressively expensive and extensive artificial intelligence may well become the norm in banking, as it is in other industries. Our banking habits have shifted, but we’re still waiting for personal finance technology to catch up.