Artificial Intelligence

Chinese banks to tap AI for more ‘human’ customer experience, survey says

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 March, 2017, 9:30pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 March, 2017, 12:13pm

Artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to deliver sweeping improvements in the way banks across China serve their customers by the end of this decade, according to new research from Accenture.

That would include creating an environment for customers that is more “human”, beyond what current online avatars and messaging bots do.

“China’s consumers are ready for AI,” Albert Chan, a managing director at Accenture and head of its financial services practice in China, said on Wednesday.

The global professional services company’s latest Banking Technology Vision report, which surveyed more than 600 bankers in 31 countries, found 90 per cent of bankers in China said AI will revolutionise the way these financial institutions gather information and interact with customers.

In addition, 83 per cent believed that AI will “help banks create a more human-like customer experience” and another 83 per cent said banks will deploy AI as their primary method for interacting with customers within three years.

While AI has long been used by banks to make heavily manual processes more efficient, the Accenture survey highlights the next stage of AI adoption to help banks understand the intentions and emotions of customers, and enable better interactions.

What lies ahead for banks ... is in many ways, a blank page
Steve Pemberton, Accenture’s head of banking for Asia-Pacific

Chan predicted a range of “AI-enabled tools will help banks interact with customers quickly and effectively, with deep-dive personal advice”.

Improvements in AI over the past 15 to 20 years have been driven predominantly by the growth in data available for learning and the processing power required to analyse that data, and infer from this learning, according to Bernstein Research.

The Accenture survey found 86 per cent of bankers in China agree that organisations which tap into what motivates human behaviour and designs the relevant customer experience will be the next industry leaders. But 57 per cent of respondents said industry regulators have not kept pace with advances in technology.

“What lies ahead for banks ... is in many ways, a blank page,” said Steve Pemberton, Accenture’s head of banking for Asia-Pacific.

The global market for AI software, services and related hardware is forecast to reach more than US$47 billion by 2020, up from an estimated US$8 billion last year, according to research firm IDC.