As Artificial Intelligence is Gaining Relevance in the Financial Sector in Nigeria

by Omolara Owodunni

Artificial Intelligence technologies have found its way into the Nigerian financial sector and it is time for us to learn how to live with it. Some of the areas of Artificial intelligence include such as machine learning, deep learning, predictive/prescriptive analytics, virtual agents and natural language understanding technologies and some financial institutions have jumped on these emerging technologies to make life easy for both current and prospective customers.

Some of the banks that have brought this to the fore include Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GTBank); United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) that has introduced Leo; Diamond Bank Plc introduced Ada and Custodian Investment Plc created Max. All these apps are gaining popularity among progressive brands. These technological inventions offer these financial institutions the opportunity to reinvent transaction processes and gain unprecedented advantages over their competition.

The financial industry is primarily a world of computers and networks. It’s boggling that the bulk of the world’s wealth is stored in databases and transactions are simply the exchange of information over networks. This noble introductions into the Nigerian Financial Ecosystem has brought an increase in the use of the internet and data penetration in the country. Equally, there is a rise of cutting edge technological innovations in the financial services sector and this is shaping the advent of Digital financial institutions. These apps that has radicalized transactions recently.

One of these application is the GTWorld app created by Guaranty Trust Bank. The multi-functional mobile banking app features biometric authentication, such as facial recognition and fingerprint, which recognizes a customer and adapts to how and when they want to bank. GTWorld offers customers access to more than 90 percent of the Bank’s services on their smartphones, guarantees further security and ensures convenience through the Quick feature, which enables a user to perform transactions without signing in, among others.

Similarly, United Bank for Africa launched a new system dubbed ‘UBA Chat Banking’ aka ‘UBA Leo’. UBA Leo simply put is a new way of making online transactions or internet banking without none other but the Facebook app. Just like a regular chat with a friend, you can chat with Leo on your Facebook messenger and get loads of your typical banking requests sorted, right there.

With this new artificial intelligence, Leo comes in handy for businesses and individuals who have limited time to visit a bank to access banking services and requests. With easily accessible data network, you can perform your normal bank transactions such as opening new accounts, checking account balance, Airtime recharge/Top up, Fund transfer, Payment of bills, Quick application for loans, Request for mini statements, etc.

Another Chatbot named ‘Ada’ provides human-like interaction and personalized experience for Diamond Bank customers. As Ada learns from past interactions, Diamond Bank now offer more relevant and timely solutions that are really simple for customers to use.

In the insurance industry, Custodian Investment Plc was the first to launch the first chatbot in the industry in the country; they leveraged the technology to deploy enhanced personalized services to its customers. The chatbot was named Max and it has been interacting with customers, it can provide quotes for the products and services of the company, respond to enquiries and check claim status. Max is available to interact for 24 hours all the days of the week and it is reached through Facebook messenger; telegram and web messenger. The app has drove insurance based on convenience of the customers.

The banking and finance sector has grown in leaps and bounds. Millions of transactions are done online irrespective of time and place worldwide. We can mention that these automated processes can be largely attributed to the integration of Artificial Intelligence in banking and finance industry which has tremendously improved customer service.

However, with all these innovations, there is a need to ensure that brands do not lose their customers to lack of empathy. Men still want to be empathized with but it is not sure that these apps would be able to do it effectively. Will Artificial Intelligence augment the role of Customer Service Representatives or will it be a great disadvantage to those in that career path? Time will definitely tell.

About Omolara Owodunni
Omolara is a PR Specialist in Lagos and she is a Movie buff; she is an alumnus of Tai Solarin University of Education, Ogun State; the Nigerian Institute of Journalism and 02 Academy and she is a member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations

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