Reducing fraud, improving customer service and increasing efficiency: AI arrives to transform banking

To celebrate the Intel AI Summit 2017, we examine how the technology will help solve critical business challenges in the financial world

Driven by the advances in Moore’s Law, the areas of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Deep Learning and Neural Networks are developing at a phenomenal rate. At Intel's Artificial Intelligence Summit in London on March 29, experts in the field of AI provided attendees with insight into how these cognitive platforms can disrupt industries by identifying trends, unlocking insights and delivering new services.

Having been an early adopter of numerous technologies, it’s no surprise to see the financial services industry emerge as one of the first sectors to embrace the world of AI. Next-generation solutions such as the Intel® Nervana™ platform for deep learning and Intel Saffron Natural Intelligence Platform have already been successfully trialled by various institutions who have been using the technology to help them solve some of the industry’s most pressing business challenges. We consider some of these below:

"AI will be used in every single segment of financial services"

Data mining is boosting customer engagement

Today's customers not only expect instant transactions, they want innovative services such as mobile banking, built-in budgeting tools and biometric authentication. This has led to the emergence of 'fintech' players that have used cloud infrastructure to deliver unique services directly to consumers.

To counter the growth of start-ups, banks have been looking for ways to develop a comprehensive 360 degree overview of customers so that they can provide them with the services they are looking for. Information from non-traditional sources such as social media, emails and browsing history is becoming key to determining what customers want. In a pilot project, Saffron improved accuracy rates of a financial institution by 70 per cent when it came to product recommendations across 160 different categories and 8,000 services. This was achieved in a period of 10 weeks and is impressive when you consider it would have taken traditional modelling techniques 18 months to achieve less accurate results.

Improving efficiencies across the business

According to research from Deloitte*, banks need to shift away from acquisition based growth, and instead focus on unlocking the value of their core business by improving internal efficiencies. One of the key areas where AI can make the difference is in the field of software development. Early results suggest that financial institutions can increase business efficiency by 10 to 15 per cent by using Saffron to accelerate software testing. The platform can also be deployed across sales and HR departments to improve training and talent acquisition.

Of course, AI is not restricted to simply boosting efficiency behind-the-scenes, it can be used to provide staff with a genuine competitive advantage. Today, a large financial institution is using Intel Nervana to carry out daily summaries of 30,000+ documents. By condensing the key points from emails, internal reports, financial news and more, portfolio managers have better insight into market conditions, allowing them to make more accurate investment decisions, faster than before. 

What does the future of banking hold?

As Christophe Chazot, Group Head of Innovation at HSBC*, said during Sibos 2016*, AI will go on to be used in “every single segment of financial services". But will this lead to a diminishing role for humans at a customer level? Not necessarily. Firstly, one has to remember the age-old maxim that technology is only an enabler and not an end in itself. For example, algorithmic trading is useless if it is not harnessed to a trading idea. Without the idea, the algorithm will simply enable you to lose your money in microseconds rather than days or weeks. The same applies to cognitive systems. While AI will no doubt help to solve critical business challenges and improve the customer experience, the systems will still need an innovative human workforce to accompany them.

*Trademarks are property of their owners

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