Survey: Hong Kong banking sector shows widespread interest in AI-based chatbots

Maria Nikolova

Chatbots are one of the top three most popular applications among the 27 listed in HKMA survey.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has earlier this week published a report on the opportunities and challenges of applying AI technology in the banking industry. The report also shares the result of an industry-wide survey on banks, industry organisations and fintech firms conducted in the third quarter of 2019.

The report shows that the top five AI use cases being adopted by the banking sector relate to cybersecurity, client-facing chatbots, remote client on-boarding, biometric customer identification, and personalised advertising. Regarding planned use cases, the most attractive for banks include anti-money laundering, fraud detection and financial advisory. Overall, the current trend for AI adoption is towards the development of risk management and customer-facing applications.

Chatbots are one of the top three most popular applications among the 27 listed in HKMA’s survey. The banking sector has shown widespread interest in this technology, especially due to its ability to help automate account management in core banking, and customer services in the mobile and Internet channels. Seventeen banks have already launched or plan to launch their own chatbot, while 25 are exploring this option, the survey shows.

One of the interviewee banks stated that its chatbots handle more than four million customer enquiries from Mainland China on a daily basis. Most Hong Kong respondents are exploring more extensive use of chatbots, in light of their benefits in terms of cost savings and their ability to capture customer insights that are valuable for marketing and product design.

Let’s recall that, a survey conducted early in 2018 by the Hong Kong Securities Association has shown that whereas banks in Hong Kong embrace new AI-based technologies, small and medium-sized brokerages shun chatbots. Many small and medium-sized brokerages, which account for the bulk of Hong Kong’s licensed securities dealers, have no plans of using the technology, that survey shows. Of the 300 brokerages surveyed in January and February 2018, the vast majority (81%) said they did not intend to deploy a chatbot, while 8% said they use one.

The results of the latest survey conducted by HKMA show that while AI has been widely adopted in retail banking, total adoption across the whole banking sector still has room to grow. According to HKMA’s survey, just 48% of the entire Hong Kong banking sector has adopted or plan to adopt AI applications. Local banks, in particular, are still hesitant about applying AI technologies.

Some of the major barriers to AI application concern building trust and safety mechanisms and complying with regulations through transparent, explainable algorithms, as well as identifying talent, collaborating and outsourcing to implement AI solutions, and the changing landscape of regulations required in a complex digital world.

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