Chatbots Take One Small Step Forward to True AI with Personetics, Clinc

Take a moment and imagine the future of banking: chances are your vision contains a lot more automation than we have now, whether you’re imagining a simple predictive algorithm for investments or a fully-fledged personal finance ‘bot with Skynet level AI—in terms of cognitive reasoning, not thirst for world domination. (I would have provided an example of an AI in fiction that was actually helpful to humanity but I can’t think of one; let me know if you can).

In the present, banking chatbots fall somewhere in the middle: we’ve passed simple algorithms, but we haven’t quite managed to create what one might call a true AI for personal finance and as such, ‘bots have skeptics.

But as attendees saw at this year’s FinovateFall, the fintech world is far from giving up on the technology, with quite a few companies presenting new ‘bots, including the AI-powered platform showed off by Personetics.

“We meant the bot to understand human behavior, to apply [customer solutions,]” says Personetics founder David Sosna of Personetics AnyWhere. The company’s chatbot aims to provide financial institutions with predictive data analytics backed by AI.

This ability to actually dialogue with customers — meaning both customers and the bot can respond in natural language instead of through stiff, repetitive phrases — is a critical step for the future development of bots. A current gap Finie, a “finance genie” also debuted at Finovate and created by year-old startup Clinc, aims to bridge.

“We essentially built a brain that learns like we do,” says Jason Mars, professor at University of Michigan and Clinc CEO, whose startup was in stealth mode building the ‘bot up until announcing its capabilities at Finovate. “At the moment chatbots are adding to the complications in people’s lives; the problems they were created to solve were still unsolved by the ones that existed. We wanted Finie to be the opposite.”

Finie is designed to integrate with existing mobile banking apps, and as stated by Mars at Finovate, has not been taught a single rule but rather uses deep learning techniques to answer users in natural language—meaning those users can actually ask questions in natural language, like “where did my money go?” or “can I afford to buy this $70 dress?”

According to Mars, the thinking was to make a personal banking assistant that becomes unique to each user as it interacts with their personal finances, and natural language ability was key to that success—the company wanted its bot to go way beyond the industry standard of routine questions and answers, some of which you would only know how to ask if you were a computer programmer or developer.

“We want to help the banks do a better job at delighting customers. Nowadays banks need to become tech companies,” says Mars. Finie is available for integration with financial institutions, managers, and banks. “Banks have to find a way to deliver a great tech experience to customers in order to maximize loyalty.”

There may be a lot of work still to do until someone creates the JARVIS (ha!) of finance…but it should be noted that this kind of ease of use is very, very complex to build. Plus, at least we’ve evolved from “Check my balance.”

To learn more about banking bots, join us at Bank Innovation Israel in Tel Aviv, November 1-3. Register here