Proper Use of Chatbots, IoT Could Bring Trust Back to FIs

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Chatbots and IoT could reach the fullest impact on the banking world by working within the existing financial infrastructure, instead of trying to disrupt it, according to an expert panel at Bank Innovation 2017.

These technologies should be thought of as additional channels connecting consumers, clients, and issuers to the financial institution, according to the panel.

“IoT can be an extension of the same technology we have already enabled,” said Kiki Del Valle, senior vice president, digital payments and labs for Mastercard, during the panel on Tuesday. “The role of IoT [should] make sure you’re supporting the eco-system.”

At the moment, IoT is mostly comprised of “wearables,” a motley collection of rings, smartwatches, and the occasional coffee cup, which enable the user to receive messages or make hands-free payments — very much along the existing rails.

The chatbot marketplace is a bit more cluttered at the moment, but the primary use case of these bots does not differ from that of IoT.

“This is about creating trust so they—the consumer—will come back for more,” said Matt Kinney, offering manager, banking analytics for IBM. “These [technologies] should be showing that you understand the customer.”

Creating trust with a chatbot means duplicating the knowledge and communication skills of an actual human banker, which means the design of the bot is far more important than the way that communication is delivered.

In other words, the voice vs. text battle is essentially a non-issue: the more important factor at play should always be what exactly one is building the chatbot for in the first place.

“Voice versus text is very context-sensitive—where you are, what you’re asking about,” said Niti Badarinath, head of North American channels for BMO. “Voice or text doesn’t really matter; why you do it matters.”

When in doubt, build both: having more options to offer the consumer never hurts.