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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer a distant dream; it is fast becoming a reality in many parts of the world across healthcare, retail, transport, investments
AI in the banking sector was seeded through the proliferation of data stemming from digitization, internet, mobile and more recently digital banking. This has evolved into machine learning, deep learning, data mining
Merely investing in AI technology however brings limited benefits. The key success factor for a bank is how to effectively harness and direct its utilization. This means using the right combination of tools and algorithms to enhance the customer experience and having a strong internal framework of governance embedded into the bank’s own DNA to drive the AI vision. Many banks have begun their AI journey with chatbots or virtual personal assistants that answer customer queries. In fact, chatbots are being hailed as the next big thing because they are not just reducing operating costs, but speeding up service and changing the conversation with
Well-designed chatbots can provide an instant response to customer queries, recall customer preferences and learn and predict customer behavior. They have the added benefit of being available round-the-clock and are able to improvise to provide the correct solution to a problem. Internationally, HSBC Holdings, Standard Chartered, and Hang Seng Bank are some of the leading banks that announced the launch of chatbots to serve customers. According to research conducted by Juniper Research, chatbots will help save global banks more than US$8 billion per year by 2022, as chatbot
Closer to home in the UAE, Mashreq Bank has introduced its chatbot to initiate an intelligent conversation with users. Customers can use the chatbot to browse Mashreq products and perform card-less transactions, low ticket local transfers and enquire about balance and recent transactions on an account, thus making it much easier to perform banking tasks. What’s more, chatbots are increasingly getting more advanced and banks are able to mine huge amounts of data and provide highly targeted and personalized experiences for customers through advanced machine learning and Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities.
Investing in AI is certainly a winning strategy, but banks must have a pragmatic approach for it to be successful in the long-term. The UAE is an early adopter of AI and has harnessed the technology to drive growth in many different sectors. For example, the banking sector is increasingly relying on the consumer-facing applications of AI, such as Emirates NBD’s virtual assistant EVA, to enhance offerings. The UAE government believes that combining machine intelligence with human intelligence is helping to build a more stable framework for the future. To fully leverage the power of AI, banks and other financial institutions must look at reskilling their workforce so that employees have the right skillsets and are ready to collaborate with existing AI. This will speed up the shift from a more ‘factory line’ approach to a more fluid approach and enhance creativity and innovation.
Over the next 10 years, AI will transform the experience for the customer through even more customized offerings, and governments and institutions in the region will invest in robust frameworks to strengthen and encourage investments in AI. Regulatory sandboxes are already helping banks pilot new financial technology and applications in a safe environment, which can be beneficial for banks and other financial institutions in the region to experiment with AI and refine products, services, platforms