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News : Westpac Puts Robots on Trial in Digital Banking Platform
Sydney, Australia, July 19 2016 -- Westpac will try out artificial intelligence in its digital banking systems, a move that would allow customers to have simple questions about their finances answered by a machine instead of a person.
As consumers do more of their banking digitally, especially on smartphones, the bank's general manager of consumer digital, Travis Tyler, said it was looking at using "bots" to respond to customers with simple questions.
It comes as banks are competing fiercely over their mobile banking offerings, with a new report from US market research firm Forrester predicting banks would increasingly use banking apps to provide money management tips to consumers.
Already a growing number of wealth managers are using "robo-advice" to make recommendations on asset allocation for investors, and Mr Tyler said Westpac was investigating how artificial intelligence could be rolled out to answer commonly asked queries.
For example, the bank was working on a "proof of concept" over the next six months for a digital system that would be able to answer consumer questions about the best deposit rates available.
"If your term deposit is rolling over, and you simply ask, 'What's the best rate, this is what I want to achieve?', it will come back with the best options and you can simply say, 'Yeah, book it,' " he said in an interview.
Artificial intelligence [AI] could also be used to answer simple questions about payments between accounts. For example, a consumer could ask the program if they had sent a friend $50 in the past month to reimburse them for a meal out, and the bot would find out and generate a response, he said.
"Bots are the new big thing at the moment, and that's where we'll look to start experimenting as well, with some of the simpler interactions for customers. You will start to see AI start integrating in some services in financial services over the coming year," Mr Tyler said.
Customers might be able to have their questions answered by a bot over the phone, or send their questions in writing, he said.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About Westpac Banking Corporation:
Westpac, is a multinational Financial services company and became the largest bank in Australia (by market capitalisation) after it took over St George, and the second-largest bank in New Zealand.
Published: Thursday, July 21, 2016