The first generation of chatbots in financial services has yet to win over the majority of consumers. But as the technology improves, banks and payments companies foresee a variety of roles and abilities for these virtual assistants.
Today’s simple question-and-answer programs will evolve, experts say, to become sophisticated conversational agents, which will help customers transact and may even be capable of understanding emotional cues. As that happens, banks expect more and more consumers will turn to chat platforms, such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, to conduct their financial affairs. When they do, the bots will be waiting for them—helpful digital representatives of companies that are betting on conversational finance as the next frontier. "A decade ago we had the first big leap, and that was web to mobile," said Edrizio de la Cruz, co-founder and CEO of Regalii, a startup whose application programming interfaces are used by dozens of financial services providers to build their chatbots. "Now the next one is mobile to conversational."