AI company Soul Machines is exploring how digital employees can disrupt financial services – from explaining complex financial concepts to encouraging more responsible spending decisions
Spotted: Financial services is already an exemplar of a conservative industry transformed by digital disruption. The traditional bureaucratic system of paper forms and bank manager approvals has been replaced by apps and websites that let consumers move money at the touch of a button. Now we stand on the edge of a second revolution catalysed by artificial intelligence (AI), and New Zealand-based company Soul Machines is at the forefront.
Many of the financial services applications for AI focus on back-end processes: investment decision-making, fraud detection, and trend analysis. Soul Machines, by contrast, is focusing on front-end customer service. Financial services—and banking in particular—have been typified by a relationship of trust with the customer. After all, banks are entrusted with customers’ hard-earned cash. A key question is how can banks create a trusting relationship through digital channels?
Soul Machines’ answer is to deploy conversational AI in the form of ‘digital employees’ – human-like interfaces that can serve customers across a wide range of services. Back in 2019, Soul Machines deployed this technology in a ground-breaking partnership with Bahrain-based Bank ABC. The partnership developed ‘Fatema’, a digital employee that can respond to customers individually, offering a multi-faceted, personalized customer service experience as part of the bank’s mobile-only team. The AI powering Fatema can learn from accumulated experiences, improving customer service.
It’s not just banks that this technology can be applied to. Soul Machines has also developed a digital employee called Kash in collaboration with an Australian collection house. Kash provides 24/7 support for customers by giving them the information they need in a non-judgemental way – helping them to move towards financial freedom.
Soul Machines’ other financial sector clients include Royal Bank of Scotland, and the company’s website states that its technology can offer clients financial question answering, built-in compliance, new customer information gathering, and digital assistant services.
Soul Machines also works in other sectors, and Springwise has previously covered its work in the education space. Other recent fintech innovations include a fintech solution for Nigeria’s unbanked, and software that automates financial services for freelancers.
Written by: Matthew Hempstead