SMFG sees benefits of chatbot use, plans to roll out AI-driven solutions across subsidiaries

Maria Nikolova

The Japanese banking giant sees enhanced efficiency when handling customer queries and faster response times thanks to chatbots.

Japanese banking giant Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Inc. (TYO:8316) has reiterated its support for solutions harnessing the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) by announcing its intentions to further develop chatbots and roll out such solutions across its subsidiaries.

SMFG estimates that the introduction of a chatbot enhances efficiency when handling customer queries and cuts response times. Sumitomo Mitsui Bank introduced a chatbot in August 2017 and, since, has registered a resolution rate of more than 90% to queries handled by the bot. This has contributed to the productivity of each employee.

As its next step, the banking group is to introduce the automated response system at SMBC Nikko Securities and SMBC Consumer Finance. The development of the systems has begun and the launch is expected in the first half of 2018.

SMBC notes that thanks to its collaboration with Microsoft Japan, it is capable of building an AI system that generates learning data and learns from it so that efficiency is improved.

SMFG and its subsidiaries have been keen to adopt various AI-driven solutions lately. Earlier this month, SMBC Nikko Securities unveiled its plans to tap the capabilities of AI to enhance its internal compliance operations by implementing a new speech recognition solution developed by NextGen. The solution which is set to be adopted by the end of March this year, harnesses the power of deep learning and is set to precisely convert speech into written text.

The new solution is especially useful in situations when the company has to verify the contents of a phone conversation or has to find a problematic recording among loads of others.

In May last year, SMBC Nikko Securities announced a partnership with NTT Communications Corporation to jointly develop an automated chat service using AI. The service, deployed at SMBC Nikko Securities’ Contact Center, aims to improve its LINE-based enquiry service. AI Chatbot is capable of understanding customer input on LINE Talk and then automatically and rapidly provide the most appropriate response.

And in September last year, SMFG and SAS Institute Japan Ltd. said they would collaborate on the application of AI in the AML compliance department of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation. Thanks to the AI technology, when looking for suspicious transactions, SMBC is able to exclude false alarms from the total of alerts generated from the AML system, and can then select the alerts to be reported to the authorities.

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