It’s become common for bankers to say, “Our bank is a technology company.”
But technology companies “move fast and break things,” and that doesn’t square well with providing customers reliable access to their money.
Case in point: MyKai, the remarkably clever chatbot from Kasisto, suffered an outage yesterday on one of its platforms, Facebook Messenger. The problem was related to “issues with Facebook’s API,” the company said in an email. The service has now returned after approximately 30 hours offline.
Now, Facebook Messenger is only one of several ways users can communicate with Kasisto, and the product just launched, on June 28. It is highly unlikely anyone relies on MyKai-on-Messenger for their banking, though that is certainly the eventual goal for the product.
In Asia, the use of chatbots for banking is common. Development Bank of Singapore, or DBS, uses MyKai, and has embedded it in WeChat and WhatsApp. Asian customers are far more comfortable with chatbots than U.S. customers, and MyKai usage there is heavy, the bank says. If the U.S. follows this pattern, MyKai, and its competitors, will soon be a very important part of the U.S. retail banking ecosystem.
MyKai is not currently able to perform transactions or move money, but if successful in its early iteration, it eventually will be. The company is reportedly in talks with banks already to test out these additional capabilities. If consumers come to rely on MyKai for actual banking services in addition to information, a 30-hour outage will be more than an inconvenience.
As banks extend out into the technical world by partnering with companies like Kasisto, they will outsource some of the user experience, and risk serious breakdowns from companies moving fast and breaking things. Partnering is essential for banks, but is this risk acceptable?
One upside is that, as we’ve heard again and again, millennials compare banks to other services. If banks are truly technology companies like Google and Facebook, perhaps consumers will view glitches and outages in the same way. But then again, you don’t use Facebook or Google to pay your electric bill. Yet.