February 08, 2017Are Banks Ready for Chatbots?

Chatbots are on their way. But are banks ready for them?

Chatbots in banking have recently been lighting up search results across the web. Whenever such hot topics surface, I ask myself, “Is it just hype or will it actually take hold in the real world?”

In short? It’s both.

Despite major progress in natural language processing and machine learning, however, many banking experts say that chatbots are not yet ready to serve as personal assistants for banking clients. Especially in an industry built on trust, banks are rightfully concerned about the current maturity and reliability of chatbots.

All the hype aside, how can banks and their customers immediately benefit from chatbots? Our answer: think big, start small. Forget artificial intelligence and machine learning and let’s look at one of the reasons chatbots are so attractive.

Chatting. We simply love conversations!

We investigated how familiar, chat-based interactions from messaging apps could improve applications that banks already offer their customers. After all, most of us use and are happy with messaging services such as Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat.

We also investigated pain points clients have while interacting with their banks. When gathering data, for example, most applications offer online forms for users to fill out. They can be quite a hassle, especially when sporadic users have to fill in complicated data in an unguided way. Or even worse: when they try to do it on mobile.

The horror.

We found that online forms are ideal candidates to investigate whether they can be augmented by conversational interfaces (i.e. turning them into conversations with a bot). Of course not all forms should be replaced by conversational interfaces, but it makes great business sense to identify where conversational forms can improve customer experience.

To validate our approach, we contributed to a report from research firm, MyPrivateBanking. In their piece, Chatbots For Banking and Wealth Management, they concluded that Appway's "think big, start small" approach—with an initial focus on conversational forms—is an ideal starting point. It allows banks to innovate without too much risk.

We’ve conducted our own research with customers and partners and are excited to share the results with you in our recorded webinar.

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Written byJürg TrunigerProduct Marketing Lead, Appway