AI Bot Cora Recruited by Natwest to Answer Customer Concerns

    Photo by Howard Lake/Flickr

    NatWest has started testing an “digital human” that is powered by artificial intelligence to help its customers with basic banking questions, increasing the possibility of further job cuts at the state-controlled bank.

    The AI assistant is named Cora. It can answer more than 200 basic banking questions, which includes “How do I apply for a mortgage?” and “How do I log in to online banking?”

    The customers can have a two-way verbal conversation with Cora via a tablet, mobile phone, or computer screen.

    The said programme has been developed with help from Soul Machines, a tech company that is based in New Zealand which has previously provided facial technology to various blockbuster films including Avatar and King Kong.

    NatWest described the said programme as “highly life-like” and said that the AI drew on “advances in neuroscience, psychology, computing power and artificial intelligence.”

    The bank said that an earlier text-based version of Cora has interacted with more than 400,000 NatWest customers.

    Kevin Hanley of NatWest stated: “We think it could create another way for our customers to bank with us and be used to help answer questions round the clock, whilst cutting queuing times for simple questions.”

    NatWest said that the scheme would supplement branch services and that it would only be rolled out if the pilot was considered to be a success.

    Last December, RBS, the owner of Natwest, announced its plans to close down a quarter of its branches – 259 of the 1,003 are in the United Kingdom.

    The company announced a partial reprieve earlier in February for 10 of the 62 RBS branch closures that were planned. However, it is ploughing ahead with closing 197 NatWest branches in Wales and England.