Rakuten builds AI platform in collaboration with IBM Japan

Maria Nikolova

The “Rakuten AI Platform” will introduce chatbots with automatic response functions into customer support.

The financial services sector in Japan continues its push into the world of artificial intelligence (AI), as Rakuten Inc (TYO:4755) is building an AI platform in collaboration with IBM Japan.

Today, Rakuten announces that it has partnered with IBM Japan to create the “Rakuten AI Platform,” an internal Rakuten system which will introduce chatbots with automatic response functions into customer support. The system was built utilizing APIs provided by IBM Watson. One of the advantages of the platform is that it will reduce the time needed to introduce chatbots to each service and is expected to improve the quality and convenience of customer support.

As a part of the development of the new AI platform, the two companies have this year established the Center of Competency, a virtual organization in which employees from both companies develop and implement AI technologies and which provides training and education on the AI platform for Rakuten employees.

Rakuten has been promoting AI research in areas like image recognition technology, as well as big data analysis. By combining both internal and external AI-related technologies with its own business expertise, Rakuten pledges to continue the adoption of AI and enhance the quality of its services.

Recently, we have seen a number of Japanese financial services companies adopt AI solutions. This list of companies includes FX brokers too.

Kabu.com Securities, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc (TYO:8306), plans to launch “AlpacaSearch for kabu.com”, developed jointly with AI startup AlpacaDB Inc. The tool aims to help stock traders identify market opportunities. Japanese online trading company Monex Inc, a subsidiary of Monex Group, Inc. (TYO:8698), has teamed up with fintech company Good Moneyger, to provide a special AI-based market report to its clients.

The increased adoption of AI solutions has raised questions about human beings keeping (or losing) their jobs. From what we have seen in the FX world, AI is thus far used for improving the trading experience and research rather than overtaking anyone’s job. Uncertainty, however, looms for customer support staff and the creation of solutions like the new Rakuten AI platform proves it – the cost reduction and the smoothness of operations associated with such AI systems is lucrative for companies.

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