Artificial Intelligence in financial services: just how good is it?

Aug 30, 2019 4:26:00 PM

There are two distinct types of Artificial Intelligence (AI). One is the friendly face of AI; the automated chat bot that greets you on a website, the virtual assistant with humanoid features. You’ll see a lot of this sort of AI about already, probably more so in future years.

The second sort of AI is rarely seen or heard; the stalking jaguar of AI, if you like. This sort of AI runs things in the background, completing either complicated or mundane jobs (or complicated and mundane jobs) at ease, so that we don’t have to. To extend the jaguar metaphor, this is the sort of AI where you are likely to really notice the consequences if things were to go wrong.

When considering the second type of AI, think for a minute about all of the different things that must happen in the background when you book a flight with your airline of choice. Money is debited from your account into the airline’s account. You are shown the available seats on your aircraft and select one. Preferences such as your meal type are selected. On check-in, your passport is security checked. This is a simplification of the process; many other things happen in the background. And yet, no human ever touches them. No one goes through the aircraft seat by seat to build the view you select from. It’s all done by AI.

This can be easy to forget as we interact with the world around us. This is particularly true of financial services. The number of complicated transactions that need to happen when someone buys one fund and sells another, for example, is labyrinthine. AI handles them all. Communications between bank accounts, markets, platforms, middleware and communications solutions happen in an instant, all an automated product of the digitised hive mind.

To answer the question in the title of this article: AI in financial services is very good. And the more exciting thing is that most companies have only just scratched the surface.

It may not surprise you to know that many financial services firms are operating on legacy systems with functional, but not sophisticated, AI capabilities. ‘Version 2’ of whatever it is they use is available. What’s more, versions 3, 4, 5, 6 and 26 can all be seen on the horizon. They will provide AI performance perks that, whilst perhaps not ‘sexy’ in conventional technology terms, are certainly vital. Faster and faster transaction handling, more uptime, more availability, more complicated transactions, predictive functionality and more. 

AI in financial services is good, very good in fact. And in the coming years the firms that want to will be at the forefront of making it even better and, therefore, at the forefront of customer service and satisfaction. ‘Very good’, in AI terms, will very soon be part of the past.

The key to delivering value in the tech age


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