The world of AI is an exciting and progressive one and chatbots are finding more and more use cases in every aspect of society. From booking flights to saving up for a house, a chatbot can guide you effortlessly and seamlessly through the process without you even realising that you are talking to a computer programme.
One particular sector where chatbot usage is particularly prevalent is in finance. AI-powered finance chatbot apps are growing in popularity and offering solutions that were previously not possible or accessible to members of the public.
What Is a Chatbot?
In the simplest terms imaginable, a chatbot is a piece of software that has been designed to perform an automated task and that also has the capability to communicate and interact with a human being.
It can also be referred to as a talkbot, bot, interactive agent, or even an artificial conversational entity. It harnesses the power of artificial intelligence and it can conduct a conversation via auditory or text methods and they are designed to convincingly imitate how a human would behave in a conversational scenario.
Most chatbots can pass the Turing test which is a test developed by Alan Turing which measures a computers ability to be indistinguishable from another human being, based on various technical criteria. A chatbot is usually used in a dialogue system or on a platform such as Facebook Messenger, a website, or Slack. It usually serves a practical purpose such as providing customer service or information, gathering data, or processing basic transactions.
Some more advanced chatbots use a more sophisticated natural language processing system but most of the simpler systems are able to scan for keywords in the input and then formulate a reply with the most matching keywords, from a database.
The word ‘chatbot’ was first used by Michael Maudlin in 1994 to describe this type of conversational computer programme. Today, most of these chatbots are accessed through virtual assistants such as Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, or Siri, or via the website or app of an individual organisation. Chatbots can also be classified into different usage types such as analytics, communication, support, design, developer tools, education, entertainment, food, games, health. HR, marketing, personal, news, shopping, sports, travel, and utilities.
Chatbots are perfect for use in the financial sphere- from giving investment advice to answering questions about your bank account, they are being implemented on a widespread basis.
Here are some examples:
- Olivia: Your Money Got Smarter
- Penny: Track Spending & Bills
- Plum: Messenger Chatbot
- MyKai: Banking Bot
- MajorCoins: Crypto Chatbot
Olivia is a mobile phone application that provides financial assistance and personal financial advice and it is powered almost completely by artificial intelligence. Whilst it is not the first app of its kind, it is one of the most advanced and easiest to use on the market. Olivia is like talking to another human being and if you didn’t know you were speaking to a chatbot, you may not even realise.
You can set up the Olivia app to sync with all of your financial accounts and after setting up and configuring it the AI will start to analyse your behaviour, spending habits, and any patterns. It will then provide feedback and advice on how to streamline your spending.
A good example would be, Olivia might provide you with information on how to save o your mobile phone bill and even how to take the saved money and put it towards another bill that is due soon such as car insurance. The best bit is that there are lots of ways to save, even if you don’t have disposable income, and Olivia will help you identify these.
The end goal of the Olivia app is to help the user make much smarter decisions with their spending. If you are someone that is a bit frivolous with their cash, it can help you keep on top of your spending. It can help everyone with budgeting and it can make your financial health significantly better.
You can choose to strike up a conversation by asking Olivia questions, or you can wait for her to message you from time to time. Through analysing your spending habits, she will make intelligent suggestions on where you can cut back and where you can save. Based on a complex system of sophisticated algorithms, she has been programmed by a multidisciplinary team of data scientists, financial experts, cognitive researchers, designers, and linguists.
If you are looking for a super-simple solution to help you track your bills and spending, then Penny is a great option. She boasts an easy-to-read interface and it works like a texting application.
The Penny character will guide you through the whole set up process, including adding your bank accounts and credit card issuers. Once you link up your accounts you can get a simplified overview of what your spending habits look like and where your money is going. It then organises all of your spendings into five standard categories; food, bills, transport, income, and other purchases.
You then have the option to take an in-depth look at each category and look at any trends that are emerging. You can ask Penny how your current month is going, what activity has been in the account, and to give a breakdown of spending by category. Upon receiving this request, Penny will present a simplified diagram of all of your spendings in this category over the last thirty days, you can then compare this against spending in other months to get a more comprehensive overview.
Penny is great for those that just want a simple overview of their spending and want to keep track of finances on a more basic level. If you are someone that requires an in-depth analysis of their spending, or suggestions then perhaps Penny might not leave you satisfied.
Plum is a little different as it works directly in your own Facebook Messenger. It advertises itself as “your money’s best friend. Build up your savings, invest in things that matter and spend less on those pesky bills.” Designed by the people who were originally behind TransferWise and with over 100,000 UK-based users, it is proving a pretty popular option.
First of all, you need to link Plum to your bank account so it can analyse your transactions. It learns about your income, spending patterns and your expenses and it then uses this information to calculate how much you can save. Every week, Plum will then transfer a little bit of money into your Plum savings account which you are able to access at any time. You can also chat to Plum at any time to get updates on what you have managed to save, which means you can occasionally splash out on something special.
Plum uses bank-grade security and it is also compatible with all the mainstream banks in the UK. It is also completely free to deposit and withdraw into your savings as well. Its servers run on Amazon cloud which is the same platform that is trusted by hundreds of the biggest international financial institutions and it uses 256-bit encryption for the transmission of data.
The fact that it is integrated into Facebook Messenger means that it is easy to use, accessible, and doesn’t require the download of any third party applications. It is easy to set up and even easier to forget that you are using it and just let it save money for you every week.
Designed by Kasisto, a startup that originated in the same Silicon Valley research lab that created Sri, MyKai provides a simple way to watch your money and save. It dovetails neatly into popular messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger and Slack, and not only does it help you keep track of your spending but it can help you move it as well. This bot has the ability to bring up your latest bank balance as well as to tell you how much you are paying in fees. You can also use it to instantly transfer money across the internet and for these reasons, it is growing in popularity exponentially.
Already popular in Asia, its use is spreading globally and because it focusses on banking, it is a pretty slick application. Through using cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology, it is able to show balances, search for transactions, make payments and define over 1057 different banking terms. It can securely connect to any bank account or card and it is familiar with over 20,000 banks as well as Venmo.
You can ask it questions such as “how much did I spend on clothes last month?” and by looking at all of your bank accounts, it will be able to give you a total. If you notice unusual or unauthorised activity on your account, it can even advise you what your rights are and what action to take.
The apps that are used to chat over never have any access to your account details or personal information and MyKai does not store any credentials or financial information. When the bot saves a conversation to enable it to “train its brain” it doesn’t save any information that can be used to identify the customer.
MajorCoins is a chatbot that can provide you with guidance, information and can even teach you about all of the major cryptocurrencies. It allows you to convert any amount of money into cryptocurrency and it has links with 90 exchanges, 1800 coins and over 22,000 trading pairs.
It also allows you to follow your preferred cryptocurrency and receive up to date information and news about it. If you are stuck for somewhere to invest or are not sure what you are doing in the crypto world, then you can even ask the bot to make a decision for you.
At the moment, it is only available on the Facebook Messenger platform and you just need to locate it under Facebook Messenger’s “Discover” tab and click install. The chatbot will then give you a short introduction and then tell you everything you need to know about cryptocurrencies. It gives you the option to choose one particular currency that you want to receive news about on a regular basis and some of these include Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Cardano, Litecoin, Stellar, NEO, Iota, and Tron.
Its main functions include the crypto conversion and learning about cryptocurrency functions and reviews show that these work well. You can learn the basics of crypto, about particular coins, or go for more in-depth information depending on your level of expertise.
This is a great application that gives cryptocurrency enthusiasts all of the knowledge they need to get going. The developers have ensured that a large number of exchanges have been integrated, and with over 22,000 trading pairs, you will always get the right value of cryptocurrency in traditional fiat currency. This app is very easy to use and navigate and whilst it doesn’t allow you to save or track your spending, it can help you with investing in this exciting new area.
These are a just a couple of examples of the exciting new FinTech and chatbot based applications that are becoming popular at the moment. As 2018 progresses, we expect to see a lot more exciting and innovative apps breaking into the market.
Read more about the FinTech Trends.