The future of customer officer of customer service through chatbots

Mar 26, 2017

Published in Sunday Business Post

The focus of fintech may be transactions and payments first, but customer service is also ripe for change

Next year is going to be pivotal for a number of reasons. Not only do most companies have to get in line with the upcoming general data protection regulation (GDPR), but financial institutions will see a shake-up in the form of PSD2.

Oliver Lynch, Business Development Director at Comtrade Digital Services
Oliver Lynch, Business Development Director at Comtrade Digital Services

Oliver Lynch says that it’s going to “really shake up the banking industry . . . as it will drive competition in the payments market and foster innovation within the fintech space”. “Banks will have to give third-party payment providers access to their clients’ current accounts, with the client’s permission, and that fundamentally changes how banks operate,” he said. “Complying just merely isn’t an option, you have a strategy and compete in this new API economy.”

Part of the challenge for banks is having to take on the new wave of fintech companies that will emerge. Unlike banks, these companies will be small, nimble and able to release new updates and features quickly, while banks may take a while to do it. However, it’s not all doom and gloom for banks. “Banks can view it as a threat, but they should be viewing the potential opportunities so . . . they should also be looking to cooperate with them,” he said. “These guys may be able to bring products that the banks don’t have to market a lot quicker or more efficiently than banks can, so
the bank [could] do an iTunes approach, share revenue with the product they don’t currently have and it can deliver it much more efficiently.” Alongside PSD2, Comtrade has been working on its own innovations in the banking industry. The biggest one is chatbot technology, mimicking human conversation so that the customer service process is smoother and more efficient.

Lynch believes this technology can help with payment transfer, customer interaction and customer service, answering the standard questions you would visit a local branch about. “The 80 per cent of questions that can be answered in real-time through a chatbot, essentially it’s a large database of questions and a large database of answers where you get the answer back in real time rather than having to go to a contact centre, get in a queue and wait for an agent to answer that question,” said Lynch.

Comtrade’s latest innovation was launching its own chatbot for Viber, doing it with two Austrian banks, Raiffeisen Bank and Addiko Bank, over the last month. Through it, you can transfer money from one Viber account to another or if they don’t have a bank account with that bank, send a QR code so they can take out money quickly.

The biggest thing that PSD2 allows is for non-banking brands to become payment companies in new and different ways. Lynch gives an example of Ryanair or Aer Lingus becoming a payment service provider, taking payments directly without service charges. “It’s going to create some new market opportunities that currently don’t exist,” he said. “Banks can’t afford to be complacent; if they only comply, they’re not going to thrive. They really have to embrace it.”

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