POSB launches its first AI-driven chatbot on Facebook Messenger

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In a move to leverage chatbots as part of its marketing arsenal, Singapore’s POSB Bank last week launched its AI-driven chatbot on Facebook Messenger.

The bank first announced its plans to let customers converse with POSB using a social messaging app in August 2016, and says it is the first bank in Singapore to leverage an artificial intelligence-driven chatbot.

To deliver the service, POSB worked with US-based Kasisto, a spin-off from SRI International which created the technology behind Siri, Apple’s voice assistant.

Over 11,000 man hours were spent training the virtual assistant using actual questions and responses taken from the bank’s customer center. An annotation team was also set up to ensure that responses are kept valid and succinct.

Importantly, the virtual assistant also has learning abilities, and will be able to respond more accurately to enquiries over time.

Customers can currently enquire about the bank’s products and services using the AI-driven which POSB calls the “POSB digibank Virtual Assistant”. To access it, customers simply visit the POSB Facebook page and go directly to Facebook Messenger.

“We know that our customers are spending time conversing on their favorite mobile messaging apps, and we are immersing ourselves in the customer journey by making it easier and more convenient for them to engage us,” said Jeremy Soo, head of the Singapore consumer banking group, DBS Bank.

“[With the service], customers can converse with us as easily as they would with their contacts – no more calls and no more waiting in line just to get a response. Customers can also soon look forward to conducting their banking transactions via this service,” he said.

The bank says customers can look forward to conducting banking transactions such as balance enquiries, fund transfers and card payments via the assistant by the second quarter of this year. It envisions chat banking as a service, and plans to extend this to other mobile messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and WeChat in the future.

The use of chatbots is slowly but steadily gaining traction. While a study by analyst firm Forrester Research noted that most chatbots don’t meet customer expectations yet, there is no question that organizations can leverage the technology to position themselves at the forefront of customer experience.

Further reading:

The state of chatbots in marketing

Tokio Marine Life Insurance Singapore deploys chatbot

Singapore to use 'chatbots' for next-gen digital government services