No matter how you feel about smart machines taking human jobs, when it comes to the banking sector, at least machines won’t be prone to misleading practices in order to pad their bonus cheques.
Perhaps it’s fitting then that National Australia Bank (NAB) is leading the way in introducing artificial intelligence in its loans department.
On Monday Ubank, NAB’s digital-only branch, announced that customers who are applying for a home loan can soon do so by talking to an artificially intelligent assistant rather than an actual human being.
Interactive agent as first mode of contact
The assistant will be called Mia, or My Interactive Agent, and is part of the new open banking regime where customers can move their digital records between institutions in search for the best price, according to the Australian Associated Press.
It was created by the start-up group FaceMe, based in Auckland. This company made headlines last year by cloning the chief economist of Swiss investment bank UBS to help answer client questions.
Danny Tomsett, CEO of FaceMe, explained the benefits of this AI shift to AAP:
‘There are rates, there is information but ultimately how we often differentiate the brand is through customer experience.
‘Often when you think about what AI and what this technology can bring, it’s the ability to embody a brand … and creating the experience that a customer truly values rather than just information.’
And Ubank highlighted what Mia can bring to the NAB customer service sector:
‘We see Mia as a really nice evolution, especially in the home loan experience where you can create an emotional connection and have your questions answered and do it all in the comfort of your own home.
‘Customers will be able to speak to Mia day and night, and she will answer more than 300 of the most common questions customers have about the home loan application journey.’
According to AAP, the Mia technology is set to be up and running by the end of this month.
What this means for the future of banking
However, UBank chief executive Lee Hatton says Mia isn’t a replacement for bank workers. Rather, it will allow UBank to staff to focus more greatly on other areas.
Hatton told AAP that ‘what AI does is continually lift the bar on how knowledgeable you can be.’
‘So it makes our people much smarter and it means that we’re able to train and develop our people in new spaces while Mia is able to take care of the things that are route learning.’
Mortgage Choice CEO Susan Mitchell insists that AI tech, or any tech for that matter, could never replace the ‘valuable service and choice that mortgage brokers provide’.
‘While we welcome all advancements in innovative technology, voice-activated applications can prove to be frustrating.
‘Those home loan applicants who require the most guidance, such as first home buyers or those with complex financial needs, are unlikely to know which questions they need to ask these technologies in order to secure the right home loan for their situation.’
Well, who knows? Maybe a question-asking bot will also be invented in the future…then homebuyers won’t even have to bother with the trouble of actually making a decision.
PS: If you’re more than a few years away from retirement, your job could potentially be at risk of being automated. This free report details the changes you could expect to see in the workplace. And some steps you could take to ensure you — and your children — are well placed in the age of automation.