Conversational banking gains currency as chatbots become popular

panuwat phimpha/

Offer an alternative to traditional phone banking

Hyderabad, October 15

If you are vexed with call drops and delays when you dial a call centre of your bank with a query or service request, then here is some relief.

Chatbots, conversational banking tools on artificial intelligence platforms that help answer customer queries, are fast becoming popular with banks as well as insurers.

According to data released by HDFC Bank on its OnChat recently, the number of users of its OnChat has grown 160 per cent month-on-month up to September 2017 since its launch in December 2016, with over 2.4 million messages.

The number of repeat users at close to 34 per cent further bolsters confidence in conversational banking. The Messenger chatbot has also opened up yet another channel for customer acquisition, with nearly 25 per cent of OnChat users being non-HDFC Bank customers.

The reasons for increasing patronage are varied. “Chatbots are very transformative in conversation experience vis-a-vis the traditional call centre,” Beerud Seth, Co-Founder Gupshup, a messaging platform, told BusinessLine. Gupshup is partnering with banks and insurers including YES Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and brokerage firm Motilal Oswal.

The popularity of bots is mainly driven by the option to escape the limited options and delays of the traditional phone banking, according M Puspha Raj, a software professional working for Infosys.

“It is true because to get an answer to a query like a loan, one can just send a message on WhatsApp and Facebook which will be answered instantly,” Seth said, adding that the scalability of the software and the range of answers given may equal the branch banking experience in many transactions.

What works behind the scene is a scalable software that can address 95 per cent of expected queries.

While phone banking executives may take two-three minutes to look at the customer history and then answer questions, the bot can answer in a split-second as it has all relevant information. It can also handle a plethora of information required in financial transactions.

Not just banking but bots are also catching up in the insurance space. Apollo Munich Health Insurance, for instance, has ‘Travel Ninja’, while ICICI Lombard is using a chatbot called MyRA. Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Co too has launched its chatbot called ‘Boing’.

The latest entrant in this space is State Bank of India. It had launched its chat assistant, SBI Intelligent Assistant a couple of weeks ago to help customers in everyday banking needs. Developed by Payjo, it can handle nearly 10,000 enquiries per second, or 864 million in a day!

Published on October 15, 2017


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