the time, so it feels like the right tone of voice, it feels consistent, and it’s answering questions naturally.” Wherever it is applied, AI can also increase the capacity of bank staff by redefining what they do, although what Cora is not about is job cuts, stresses McKenna. “Rather, she gives us more capacity, as a bank, to free up our people to help our customers with the more complex challenges they may have, such as saving for their next financial goal. So it’s a huge benefit for the bank, as well.” Perhaps in the wider context, AI’s most useful service within banking is in improving security and mitigating fraud. “That’s definitely one of the big benefits,” says McKenna, “to harness large groups of unstructured data and really analyse that and provide insights for us. It’s a huge opportunity for us, as an industry, to look at AI as a way of helping our customers to minimise fraud. “We have our own internal AI centre of excellence, which is exploring new use
cases all the time as the technology becomes more mature. As a bank, we also have innovation assets in Silicon Valley, in Tel Aviv, across the UK and in Ireland, where teams are all looking at how we can bring the best of technology into the bank, to help us improve every aspect of it,” adds McKenna. “If there’s any new AI technology company with something interesting, we’ll be speaking to them and seeing how we can harness that. Even engaging with them to explore, collaborate and test some of these ideas to see if they’re of value to us as an organisation and for our customers.” The Scotland-based banking group has recently teamed up with analytics experts from the University of Edinburgh to focus on improving the customer experience. And earlier this year it was announced that NatWest would become the first UK bank to launch a data academy, which
aims to train 1,000 staff in its first year on how to best understand and harness data as part of a £1million initiative. McKenna describes the human-like Cora trials in 2018 as a ‘really interesting experiment’, not least because Cora has obvious benefits for blind and partially sighted customers, who may be unable to fully engage with typical screen content. It also appeared that others who have avoided digital services in the past for whatever reason, were more comfortable interacting with Cora in her human form. “It kind of points to where this could go in the future, where it’s about not just typing questions or using voice technology, but interacting with a digital human who could, potentially, mirror the behaviour of our customer service agents,” says McKenna. Filmmaker Cameron’s avatars lived in a world called Pandora… for NatWest and RBS it looks like Cora could be opening that box.
We’ve had to create new roles and new capabilities to make sure we are using AI in the right way... creating conversation analysts, who are reviewing interactions with customers through AI and refining them www.fintech.finance
Issue 13 | TheFintechMagazine
Fintech Finance presents: The Fintech Magazine Issue 13