“What’s exciting about Ceba is that it will be able to do the banking for our customers rather than just provide instructions on how to do it”, says Commonwealth Bank Executive General Manager Digital, Pete Steel.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) is the next to follow the trend of financial services companies adopting artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to enhance their customer service operations.
The bank has announced the launch of a chatbot, codenamed Ceba, which aims to assist customers with more than 200 banking tasks ranging from the activation of their card and checking their account balance to making payments. Ceba, which, unlike human staff, is available 24/7, can recognize approximately 60,000 different ways customers ask for various banking tasks and will eventually be able to tell customers what they are spending their money on.
Commonwealth Bank Executive General Manager Digital, Pete Steel, forecast that AI will play an increasingly important role as digital banking moves beyond the mere enabling of seamless transactions.
“Banks are moving towards providing personalised and insightful online banking experiences for our customers, and artificial intelligence along with the powerful technology behind it sits at the centre of this shift”, he said.
“What’s exciting about Ceba is that it will be able to do the banking for our customers rather than just provide instructions on how to do it” – Commonwealth Bank Executive General Manager Digital, Pete Steel.
The chatbot also aims to provide a seamless end-to-end experience if a customer needs to speak to a person, such as reporting fraud or applying for a product. It is housed on Commonwealth Bank’s systems, offering a secure banking channel.
At present, the new solution is available to 20% of NetBank customers, and is set to be rolled out more broadly in the coming months.
Whereas AI gets to help in customer-facing operations at other banks too, it also threatens certain jobs. In November last year, National Australia Bank Ltd. (ASX:NAB) announced that it was reshaping its workforce in line with further automation and streamlining of its business.
The bank said it expected that by full year 2020 it will create up to 2,000 new jobs while about 6,000 roles will be impacted by its transformation push. This is set to result in a net reduction in staff currently targeted at approximately 4,000 by the end of full year 2020. The change is associated with a restructuring provision of $0.5-0.8 billion for the first half of 2018.
One example of how NAB pushes into the world of automation and novel fintech is the launch of a digital virtual banker in September last year. The virtual banker is aimed at business customers, enabling them to receive instant answers and assistance with common banking questions and tasks.