NatWest embraces AI, starts testing “digital human” Cora

Maria Nikolova

A new Cora prototype has been built to include a highly life-like digital human that customers can have a two-way verbal conversation with.

NatWest has started testing a digital human driven by artificial intelligence (AI), in a move that underlines the invasion of new technologies in the financial services sector. The bank has announced that Cora, an AI powered ‘digital human’, could in future be used as an additional way for customers to get answers to basic banking queries such as “How do I login to online banking?”, “How do I apply for a mortgage?” and “What do I do if I lose my card?”.

The bank, has since the start of 2017, rolled out a text-based chat bot called ‘Cora’ that can answer 200 basic banking queries and now has 100,000 conversations a month with customers of the bank. But the bank has taken another step and, drawing upon advances in neuroscience, psychology, computing power and artificial intelligence, a new Cora prototype has been built to include a highly life-like digital human that customers can have a two-way verbal conversation with on a computer screen, tablet or mobile phone.

NatWest have been developing Cora using technology provided by New Zealand-based company Soul Machines. The latter uses biologically inspired models of the human brain and neural networks to create a virtual nervous system for their digital humans that can detect human emotion and react verbally as well as physically, through facial expressions. The bot is trained when dealing with new subject matter and when she makes mistakes she learns, so that over time the interactions become more and more accurate.

NatWest will deploy the technology if it successfully completes a pilot. At this point, it is thought it could be used to help free up time for human advisors to answer more complex customer questions and could also be used to answer queries which fall outside normal working hours and days.

Photo credit: RBS.

Testing to date has highlighted some of the advantages of Cora. For instance, customers that have avoided digital services in the past may be more inclined to interact with digital humans like Cora. Also, she could help blind and partially sighted customers who are unable to engage with visual content.

The step taken by NatWest is in line with a broader trend of increased use of digital assistants by financial services companies. Digital Nordic bank Nordnet, for example, announced that it enrolled its first digital employee – Amelia, back in the summer of 2017, with the bot working side by side with her human colleagues in the customer relations department. Her first role has been to support new customers through the onboarding process and help them with tasks such as account activation.

Commenting on the employment of Amelia, Nordnet’s CEO Peter Dahlgren emphasized that it is AI that is capable of meeting the individual needs of each customer and this has been the primary reason for investing in the adoption of Amelia. Furthermore, he noted, Amelia’s colleagues will be able to dedicate more time to activities that have more value. As a result, “humans can focus on what humans do”.

Read this next

Retail FX

ThinkMarkets expands CFDs lineup to over 4000 ETFs and shares

ThinkMarkets has expanded its service offering by incorporating 2500 new CFDs on shares and ETFs on its ThinkTrader platform.

Retail FX

France regulator warns investors of Omega Pro, Businessempire.fr

France’s financial markets regulator alerted investors that scams related to Omega Pro Ltd are beginning to circulate, with the blacklisted firm capitalizing on the situation to run a range of “unrealistic” offers.

Digital Assets

Web3 platform Grand Time paid $2 million in token earnings to date

Community-driven Web3 platform Grand Time said its offering – which includes a multifaceted platforms and its native token – has been gaining significant traction highlighted by impressive operational metrics.

Institutional FX

FX volumes at MOEX halved in April as ruble gains gorund

Currency trading at Moscow Exchange (MOEX) halted its upward route in April as monthly volumes nearly halved from a month earlier.

Digital Assets

FTX US adds stock trading, fractional shares to crypto platform

FTX US, the American subsidiary of crypto exchange FTX has kicked off stock trading feature to its customers in an effort to compete with popular platforms such as Robinhood and eToro.

Industry News

UK FCA empowered to remove brokers’ permissions in 28 days

Businesses with permissions they don’t need or use, risk misleading consumers. These new powers will enable us to take quicker action to cancel permissions that are not used or needed.

Industry News

CFTC charges $44m Ponzi scheme but millions may have fled to foreign crypto exchange

The CFTC alleged that defendants transferred millions of dollars to an off-shore entity that, in turn, may have transferred funds to a foreign cryptocurrency exchange. None of these funds were returned to the pool.

Technology

Saxo Bank deploys Adenza to address Basel and EBA requirements

The integration of ControllerView will enhance Basel-driven capital calculations and reporting at Saxo Bank in support of the bank’s multijurisdictional capital and liquidity reporting requirements throughout Denmark, Switzerland and UK, with plans to expand into the Netherlands.

Executive Moves

ComplySci appoints CTO, CPO, and CLO to further regtech’s product expansion

ComplySci offers compliance software used by more than 1400 global institutions to identify risk and address regulatory compliance challenges.

<