Number26 Plants the Seeds of Genuine AI

Robot Android WomenThis is an exciting time to be alive in the fintech space — and also an interesting time to be a chatbot, as the experiences of Microsoft’s Tay proved last week.

As FIs and startups alike leverage the best in entrepreneurial and technological insight to adapt to customers’ lives, the gap is narrowing between financial operations (payments, budgeting, etc) and how these interactions are integrated into the lives of users, increasingly cultivating a seamless banking experience.

This seamlessness may have taken a step forward last week as German mobile banking startup Number26 introduced a new app that lays the groundwork for extensive artificial intelligence (AI) in financial services.

Dubbed PULSE26, Number26’s new banking app analyzes customer saving and spending habits to optimize the digital banking experience for each user. PULSE26 alerts the user with quick and comprehensive  updates based on personal banking history. This isn’t just an embedded Excel function; Number26 has designed a self-adaptive algorithm that works in three connected ways to transform banking operations.

PULSE26 speaks personally to the user: news, analysis, and insights. Whether she has been away for a few days, or is in the process of a complicated investment, the app engages her with “News You Can Use” in logistical situ. The app’s financial analysis provides an overview of monthly spending reports, whose accuracy and precision improve with greater use. In a nutshell, the more you use it, the more it adapts, the more effective it becomes. An example of this is its ability to provide personal insights, e.g., providing fun or useful information based on things like your favorite cafe or restaurant. By clicking on the heart symbol each time an insight or service is deemed helpful by the user, PULSE26 sutures confirmed methods of assistance into its programming.

There are other, less-futuristic examples of PULSE26’s algorithmic dynamic in the fintech world. Wells Fargo’s recently installed Digital Express invites customers to enter the design space for new services and technology, giving them a chance to confirm or deny the relevance of new developments. Sweep, which demoed at Bank Innovation’s most recent event, also incorporates an element of AI into its PFM platform, but its range of utility is still limited. Another German to-be-launched fintech startup called Clinc appears as though it will also incorporate some degree of AI by adjusting budgeting and saving based on “unexpected rises or falls in spending.”

Apps like PULSE26 raise the possibility of a service that will adapt services, payments, budgeting and saving to each customer’s unique needs at a much faster rate. In other words, banking is beginning to intersect with the long-hailed technological singularity of data-driven action.

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