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The Top 5 Banking Trends for 2017

Authored by: David Horton, Head of Innovation, Synechron

Without a doubt, 2016 was the year ‘disruption’ became tangible. Events like Brexit, the U.S. election and India’s demonetization exercise brought home the reality we are living in a fast-changing global society where a sense of anti-establishment and rebellion is accelerating change.

This shows no sign of stopping in 2017, with new technologies allowing banks to offer service levels more synonymous with hospitality than financial services, and with established technologies like artificial intelligence and robotic process automation seeing a resurgence in combination with new voice commerce models, IoT data, and robo advisors to offer more personal, more contextual and ultimately unique banking experiences for each and every one of us. In meeting with decision- making executives from the U.S to Europe, the Middle East, India and Singapore, I have compiled a clear list of trends that are dominating technology investment discussions across the globe’s leading banks.

The Year of the Chatbot - Eliza is all grown up
2017 will be the year of the ‘BOT’, and undoubtedly several banks will take their first steps towards "conversational commerce," a term originally coined by Chris Messina of Uber to describe the future of messaging within apps. In 2016 we already saw several leaders’ like DBS, Santander, Wells Fargo and Bank of America roll out their chatbots, but 2017 is the year when the rebirth of this very old technology will come into its own.

Let’s be clear…Chatbots are not new, and in the 1950s computer scientists Alan Turing and Joseph Weizenbaum imagined the concept of computers communicating like humans do - developing the ‘Turing Test’ and subsequently inventing the first chatbot program, Eliza. The Turing Test was developed by Alan Turing to test a computer’s ability to replicate intelligent behavior considered to be equivalent or indistinguishable from that of a human. It is no surprise then, that for the financial industry that chatbots are top of mind when looking to reinvent the customer experience whilst also cutting down on costs in job roles ripe for automation. In recent months, the White House has stated that at least 83% of jobs paying under $20 per hour, and 35% of jobs paying between $20 and $40 per hour, are at threat of being taken over by AI technologies like chatbots.

So for those who have been stranded on an island, then you might be asking what exactly is a chatbot? Chatbots are essentially software programs pretending to be people that you can interact with through text or voice. You can talk to these chatbots in your messaging apps, websites or voice enabled devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home, much like you would any other contact in your list, to get the day's investment briefing, find out your account balance or just pay your phone bill.


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