Currencies

China capital curbs reflect buyer’s remorse over market reforms

Last year the reformist head of China’s central bank convinced his Communist party bosses to give market forces a bigger say in setting the renminbi’s daily “reference rate” against the US dollar. In return, Zhou Xiaochuan assured his more conservative party colleagues that the redback would finally secure coveted recognition as an official reserve currency […]

Continue Reading

Banks

Carney: UK is ‘investment banker for Europe’

The governor of the Bank of England has repeated his calls for a “smooth and orderly” UK exit from the EU, saying that a transition out of the bloc will happen, it was just a case of “when and how”. Responding to the BoE’s latest bank stress tests, where lenders overall emerged with more resilient […]

Continue Reading

Currencies

China stock market unfazed by falling renminbi

China’s renminbi slump has companies and individuals alike scrambling to move capital overseas, but it has not damped the enthusiasm of China’s equity investors. The Shanghai Composite, which tracks stocks on the mainland’s biggest exchange, has been gradually rising since May. That is the opposite of what happened in August 2015 after China’s surprise renminbi […]

Continue Reading

Capital Markets

Mnuchin expected to be Trump’s Treasury secretary

Donald Trump has chosen Steven Mnuchin as his Treasury secretary, US media outlets reported on Tuesday, positioning the former Goldman Sachs banker to be the latest Wall Street veteran to receive a top administration post. Mr Mnuchin chairs both Dune Capital Management and Dune Entertainment Partners and has been a longtime business associate of Mr […]

Continue Reading

Banks

Financial system more vulnerable after Trump victory, says BoE

The US election outcome has “reinforced existing vulnerabilities” in the financial system, the Bank of England has warned, adding that the outlook for financial stability in the UK remains challenging. The BoE said on Wednesday that vulnerabilities that were already considered “elevated” have worsened since its last report on financial stability in July, in the […]

Continue Reading

Categorized | Banks

UK banks get ready to roll out robot tellers


Posted on October 4, 2016

Banks hope artificial intelligence will help them improve customer service©FT Montage/Dreamstime

Banks hope artificial intelligence will help them improve customer service

Artificial intelligence that can mimic human empathy and learn to answer complicated questions will be employed by UK banks to serve customers around the clock and cut costs.

Royal Bank of Scotland is planning to unveil Luvo: “human” AI that can answer questions online, ranging from lost card queries to unblocking pin numbers and updating home addresses.

    Luvo, powered by technology giant IBM, can read customer moods and respond accordingly, and RBS could switch on this ability in future.

    “Like humans, Luvo has to be trained when dealing with new subject matter but, crucially, it learns from its mistakes and its answers become more accurate over time,” says RBS, which plans to unveil it at the end of the year.

    The state-backed bank will be the first in the UK to launch a customer-facing service using AI after trialling it internally.

    UK banks are only in the early stages of using AI but they hope it will improve customer service, because it can work consistently around the clock. AI could also allows banks to move staff from mundane to more complicated tasks, and to reduce the workforce and cut costs.

    Warren Mead of KPMG said: “Of course it’s about cost-cutting to an extent. Banks face a huge cost challenge as they go forward, but it can be done in a way that augments customer service.”

    For example, AI could be used in call centres instead of people reading scripts. It could also learn to provide the correct answers to queries more efficiently, speeding up and improving customer service, said Mr Mead. For some processes that are “people-heavy and content-light”, this could reduce costs by about 80 per cent, he said.

    David Parker from Accenture said banks were already using AI for basic processes driven by human commands, such as quickly gathering customer information from multiple different pages and presenting it on one screen. Using machines that can learn from their interactions with customers is the next stage banks are exploring.

    “Obviously there are some streamlining and cost-reduction benefits. What we’re seeing is organisations planning to use this to move staff from dull processes to more judgment-based roles,” he said.

    Toyota launches $400 Kirobo Mini robot companion in Japan

    Toyota unveils the Kirobo Mini

    Device is said to have intelligence of a five-year-old and can learn phrases

    Technology company IPsoft has built an “AI worker”, or virtual assistant, called Amelia, which can learn and hold a conversation while responding to emotions.

    Accenture is working with a number of banks to help them use Amelia for certain processes, such as helping people find a mortgage adviser or open a bank account.

    The London borough of Enfield announced in June that it had recruited Amelia for frontline services, responding to residents’ queries and helping with licence and permit applications.

    RBS is offering Luvo to a small group of customers online in Scotland, before expanding it to NatWest customers in England. The bank is keen to emphasise that customers will not be forced to interact with Luvo, and human support is still available.

    Chris Withers from IBM said: “As this cognitive system continues to learn over time, Royal Bank of Scotland will be able to expand Luvo’s capabilities to more complex areas such as providing increased personalisation and using predictive analytics to detect possible issues before they arise.”

    Mr Parker said: “Banks realise AI will be the future. It’s not that the technology isn’t there, it’s that banks are figuring out how best to apply AI to processes and customer interactions.”