Customer service personnel in banks may soon lose their jobs as lenders opt for cost-saving and efficient technology tool, chatbot. The use of artificial intelligence, machine learning and chatbots in banking has been on the increase globally and now gaining traction in Nigeria.
The banks are however not the only businesses adopting the technology as it cuts across all sectors. Chatbots are designed to facilitate two-way communication, replacing channels such as phone, email or text and they efficiently handle most basic tasks such as balance inquiry, bank account details, loan queries among others. Already, UBA, Diamond Bank and Stanbic IBTC have deployed the technology to while other banks are planning same.
Though emerging technologies are considered to pose big threats to labour force, analysts are of the view that low-skilled workers face the biggest threats. This, however, will not discourage banks and other organisations from deploying the technology as it offers huge benefits.
For instance, it is projected that chatbots will save banks billions of dollars in the coming decade. A report released by Juniper indicated that chatbots will be responsible for over $8 billion annual cost savings by 2022. According to Gartner, by 2020 chatbots will be handling no less than 85 per cent of all customer service interactions.
Speaking on the technology, Group Head, Online at UBA, Mr Austin Abolusoro said thebank’s Chatbot named Leo was developed in partnership with some global giants, like the Facebook. “Leveraging on technology has many possibilities which are unlimited and UBA has explored it and brought out the AI Chatbot based on our roadmap to enable financial inclusion. “Leo is a financial assistant developed with best on class AI technology that has natural language, multi-lingual processing, machine-learning and available on two most popular social media channels.
Abolusoro said that the bot responds to complaints from customers as regards transactions and after checking on details provided, would give it a log identification and tell you within number of days the issue would be resolved. Abolusoro explained that Leo would also serve as a savings option where it would help a customer to move money from one account to another with ease.
Diamond bank’s Chatbot named Ada uses AI technology to provide a human-like interaction and personalized experience for the bank’s customers. According to the bank, Ada learns from past interactions, Diamond can offer more relevant and timely solutions that are really simple for customers to use. The chatbot enables transactions such as airtime purchase, bill payments, stock trading, and money transfers all via a social network platform.
Stanbic IBTC on it part said its chatbot named SAMI is a digital assistant through which customers can relate to the bank in order to have seamless financial transactions. According to the bank, SAMI can help its customers with Account Opening, Balance Enquiries, General Enquiries and A Quick Chat. Customers willing to use this digital assistant platform can access it through Stanbic IBTC Chatbot on Facebook or Facebook Messenger.
In addition, Stanbic IBTC has also deployed robots to drive various dimensions of its operations. According to Manager, Business Management Processing Improvement at the bank, Wale Ojo, the robot named BlueBots facilitates account origination and servicing for anti-money laundering (AML) transactions, processing and clearing for inward cheque confirmation. He added that the robots were designed and deployed to reduce manual intervention, eliminate errors and reduce cost of processing in reconciliation processes, with reconciliation turnaround time reduced significantly.
Reacting to the possibility of technology taking over the jobs of human beings and leaving many out of jobs in the banks, Ojo said human beings will still be relevant but companies would need to invest in the people to bring them in tune with the technology age. He however noted that presently, humans would not help the banking industry to achieve their goals and move into the future, thus the need to think about the use of technology.
The Managing Director Oracle Nigeria, Mr Adebayo Sanni, noted that while it is not avoidable that technology will take over some human jobs, current employers will need to make themselves useful by acquiring skills that will make them relevant and indispensable when their employer deploy technologies.